A Human Rights Approach to Immigration Law

A Human Rights Approach to Immigration Law

In recent times, Australia has suffered a crisis of credibility when it comes to human rights compliance.  This is most evident in the area of immigration.  Protection of borders has regularly predominated over the protection of fundamental rights of those within them.  So too, has political expediency.  There has been serious slippage in a number of areas, to the extent that it can be considered systemic.  Notorious amongst these has been the acute and egregious retreat from fundamental human rights obligations in the area of Immigration law, particularly in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Australia’s recent approach to asylum seekers and refugees has been radical and degenerative in nature.  The approach has created one of the toughest and most extensive anti-asylum seeker systems in the Western world.  From a human rights perspective Australia’s approach represents, in many respects, the Western world’s worst practices and a potentially problematic precedent. 

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A Human Rights Agenda for Kevin 07 in Australia 08

Twelve years.  Twelve long, dark years.  Over a decade during which Australia’s human rights performance was comprehensively set back.  But at last it’s over.  There is a lot of ground to be made up, things that need to be undone and undone things that need to be done.  We are entitled to have high expectations of the new federal Labor Government but the human rights agenda is a big one.  Where to begin?

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A Happy New Year for Human Rights and Democracy

New Year’s Day heralded more than just the start of another year; it marked an important milestone in Australian democracy as the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities became fully operational. Based on similar mechanisms which operate successfully in the UK, New Zealand and our own ACT, the Charter is a common sense form of democratic insurance that holds government accountable – one that ensures that those who make decisions make them in accordance with civil and political rights.

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Australia’s Policy on Human Rights:An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Australia from Human Rights Watch

Australia’s Policy on Human Rights:An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Australia from Human Rights Watch

We write to you outlining key areas of policy where we believe that Australia can and should do more to promote and protect human rights.  On foreign policy, Australia is a significant political actor and donor in the Asia-Pacific region, so your government is well placed to play a leading role in promoting human rights at a regional and international level.  Over the past decade, the Australian government was notably absent or obstructionist in such efforts.  The significant international attention paid to your signing of the Kyoto Protocol and your statement at the Bali conference on climate change shows the clout Australia has and the ways in which it can be put to good use.

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