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UN panel slams Victorian Govt, police over attacks on Indians

A United Nation panel has criticised the Victorian government and the police for ignoring racial motives behind the spate of assaults on Indian students in Melbourne.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2010 12:22 IST

A United Nation panel has criticised the Victorian government and the police for ignoring racial motives behind the spate of assaults on Indian students in Melbourne.

The UN panel expressed its concern over the security of international students in Victoria and criticised the absence of police data on migrants that have been victims of crime, The Age newspaper reported. After an investigation into Australia's efforts to eliminate racial discrimination, the panel submitted its critical findings in Geneva at the weekend, the report said.

The report by the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination is part of a five-year review of Australia's compliance with anti-discrimination obligations. The panel, in its final report, expressed concern over the series of racially motivated assaults of Indian students, including one death, in the state of Victoria.

It regrets the failure by the government and police (both at a state and federal level) to address the racial motivation of these acts. The criticism follows a warning by Australia's top diplomat in India, high commissioner Peter Varghese, that the number of Indian students heading to Australia this year was likely to drop by up to 70 per cent.

Australia's reputation as a destination for foreign students was badly damaged over the past year after a series of violent attacks on Indians. The killing of Indian national Nitin Garg in the Western suburbs in January this year while on his way to work at a fast food restaurant generated a media storm in India over the treatment of foreign students in Australia.

Earlier in February, Indian high commissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh had raised the issue with Governor-General Quentin Bryce that Victoria was a state "in denial" over the severity of the problem. Meanwhile, a Victorian government spokesman rejected the assertions made in the UN report.

"Both the government and Victoria Police have consistently acknowledged that some attacks on Indian students have been racially motivated," a spokesman was quoted as saying by the newspaper. The Government also said the claim that judges did not have access to information on the motivation of attacks was incorrect, "stating recent law changes meant judges must take into account hatred or prejudice against a particular group when sentencing".

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