The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014, which amends the Migration Act 1958 and the Maritime Powers Act 2013, has recently been adopted by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The full text can be read here.
According to the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, this bill seeks to:
- introduce TPVs for asylum seekers who arrived by boat or by air without a visa and are not subject to mandatory regional transfer and resettlement arrangements but are found to engage Australia’s protection obligations;
- establish a new assessment process with limited merits review for asylum seekers who arrived by boat from 13 August 2012;
- mandate that Australia’s non-refoulement obligations are irrelevant to the compulsory removal of a person who does not have a visa;
- codify Australia’s interpretation of its protection obligations under the Refugee Convention, render the Australian definition of “refugee” separate to and narrower than the currently accepted international law definition;
- clarify that Australian born children of asylum seekers who arrive by boat (unauthorized maritime arrivals) will be treated in the same way as their parents, including being eligible for transfer to a regional processing country and bar them from applying for a protection visa in Australia (where this applies to their parents);
- give the Minister the ability to place a limit on the number of protection visas that may be granted in a financial year; and
- limit the ability of Australian courts to invalidate actions at sea where these actions do not comply with Australia’s international obligations or the domestic law of other countries.
According to the UNHCR, this bill "raises a number of serious questions in relation to the interpretation of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol". The UNHCR submitted a memo to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee and proposed several amendments to the bill in order to comply with Australia's international obligations under international refugee law.
Moreover, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service recently stressed that: "the proposed changes will strip away fundamental legal safeguards afforded to people seeking protection from persecution in Australia."
Posted by Flavie Fuentes
More than 600 children are currently detained in Australian immigration facilities (459 on the Australian mainland and 144 on Christmas Island) and 186 children are currently detained on Nauru. 413 days is the current average length of detention in Australia for adults and children.
These figures are provided by the non-profitorganisation "We are better than this", that asks the Government to put an end to this form of institutional child abuse1. They have authored the following "humanifesto":
"Australia does not tolerate individuals who are cruel to kids.
Australia is no longer blind to institutional child abuse. We shine light deep into the dark corners of even the most venerated and powerful institutions.
And yet, Australia locks up innocent, traumatised children without trial; indefinitely, and under a tightly woven cloak of secrecy.
Our Government has created detention centres—deterrence camps—on Christmas Island, Nauru and on our own soil. There, the treatment of children is so inhumane and the conditions so appalling that leading Australian psychiatrists and paediatricians have been moved to speak out in a voice unprecedented in their profession.
These camps contravene international human rights conventions to which Australia is signatory.
We are better than this.
This will end because it must end and we will help it end.
There are better ways."
The organisation, which comprises artists, politicians, child protection workers and other experts, has realized a song which can be purchased online to raise funds and support their cause.