Qantas and Virgin Australia are under fire for transporting deported asylum seekers and refugees for the Australian government.
Fairfax reports the two airlines are facing criticism from human rights activist for their role in Australia’s immigration system which has been condemned by multiple bodies within the UN including the Human Rights Committee.
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and the Refugee Advice and Casework Service are meeting with Qantas today to discuss concerns that the airline has been complicit in returning asylum seekers to countries where they may face persecution and harm.
“Various international authorities recognise that the Australian system for assessing and processing claims for asylum doesn’t meet international standards,” ACCR’s executive director Brynn O’Brien told Fairfax.
“Where any company is involved in facilitating the operation of that system, that brings their corporate responsibility to respect human rights into play.”
O’Brien said Qantas investors would do well to remember the financial damage inflicted on Transfield for their role in operating detention centres for the Australian government.
“Reputational risk, even to the value of their brand, is financial risk,” she said.
The groups plan to call on Qantas to cease all transport of asylum seekers and refugees facing forced deportation.
They also have plans to call on Virgin Australia to follow in the footsteps of their sister brand Virgin Atlantic and pledge not to accept passengers who are being involuntary deported.
A spokesman for Qantas told Travel Weekly that Qantas appreciates the sensitive nature of the issue.
“The Government and courts are best placed to make decisions on complex immigration matters, not airlines.”
Virgin Australia also commented, telling Fairfax they would “take advice on this matter from the relevant authorities.”