Coalition’s cruel refugee policies would violate international human rights law

The refugee policy unveiled today by the Opposition is cruel, violates international human rights law and it does nothing to address the underlying problem.

The Human Rights Law Centre is extremely concerned about the Coalition’s policy to scrap appeal rights.

HRLC’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said scrapping appeal rights will simply increase the numbers of mistakes made and Australia will risk violating international law by returning people to potentially face things like torture and persecution.

“Having a single public servant - reporting to their political masters – is no substitute for an independent court system. Determining whether someone is a refugee or not can be a matter of life and death. There is no margin for error as getting it wrong can mean that we return people to face the very persecution from which they have fled,” said Mr Webb.

The reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas will leave people who have escaped the risk of serious human rights violations in a state of perpetual limbo.

“These people are already here. This isn’t about deterrence. It’s punishment for the sake of short term politics. It’s cruel. It’s wrong and it does nothing to address the reasons why people are risking their lives,” said Mr Webb.

Denying visas, work rights and family reunification to people in the community breaches a range of international human rights.

Mr Webb said these measures are specifically designed to inflict suffering on innocent people and certainly breach international human rights law.

“Of course, lawyers around the country will be looking for ways to protect their clients from these cruel policies,” said Mr Webb.

Mr Webb said Australia needs to prioritise safer pathways for people seeking protection, so asylum seekers don’t feel that they have no other choice but to make a dangerous boat journey.

“Simply shutting our doors doesn’t solve the problem, it just pushes it elsewhere. This is a regional problem and Australia has an important role to play in finding real regional solutions – not ones that just handball the problem to our poorer neighbours,” said Mr Webb.


For further details or comments, please contact:
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, on 0437 278 961
Rachel Ball, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, on 0434 045 919