Do Australian Migration Act changes breach international law?

by Ray Clancy on November 5, 2014

in Australia Immigration

Proposed government changes to the Migration Act are incompatible with Australia’s human rights obligations, it is claimed.

A report from the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights is highly critical of the changes and says they put Australia at odds with international human rights law.

Scales of justice

A report from the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights is highly critical of the potential changes

It is particularly critical of a proposal to cut the time in which asylum seekers’ refugee claims would be assessed, warning it could lead to genuine refugees being sent home to face persecution or torture.

The changes proposed by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison would re-introduce temporary protection visas to be applied to about 30,000 asylum seekers still living in Australia.

It would also mean that asylum seekers found to be refugees would get a three year visa allowing them to work, but they would ultimately have to return to their country of origin.

The changes would also expand maritime powers, covering people detained at sea, and allow Australian law to significantly limit the country’s responsibilities under international human rights laws.

According to Professor Jane McAdam, from the University of New South Wales’s Kaldor Centre, it is clear that the committee thinks many aspects of this current bill breach international law.

‘Essentially we are being asked to just trust the minister, where we know his main objective is deterrence. This is based on the assumption that any person who arrives by boat will not ever receive permanent protection,’ she explained.

A bill currently before the House of Representatives would strengthen the government’s ability to forcibly remove people from Australian territory, and allow the government to disregard whether those people would face persecution in whichever place Australia left them.

The bill would remove almost all references to the UN Refugee Convention in Australia’s Migration Act, replacing them with Australia’s own interpretation of the convention.

It would also grant the government the power to take an asylum seeker to a foreign country, even if that foreign country was hostile and had not agreed to accept them.

The bill would ensure those powers ‘cannot be invalidated because a court considers there has been a failure to consider Australia‘s international obligations’.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: