Refugee & Asylum Seeker Rights
The Asylum Seeker and Refugee Rights Unit was established in January 2015. Our vision is that Australia treats all people seeking asylum with decency and respect for their basic human rights while working constructively towards a safe, humane and orderly approach to forced displacement.
We work to achieve lasting systemic change and to mitigate the worst aspects of the current system in the interim. We do this by focussing on:
- Action beyond our borders - We target government and corporate action on Nauru and Manus Island and on the high seas - the sites of least transparency and greatest injustice;
- The worst excesses onshore - We also challenge the most acute human rights abuses onshore - arbitrary detention, secrecy, regressive legal changes and abuses in detention; and
- Advocating for humane policy alternatives - We are a principled and credible voice for a more humane, lawful and constructive policy approach. Our public advocacy helps establish the preconditions for lasting change.
Imran Mohammad is a Rohingyan refugee whom our Government has detained for the last four years on Manus Island in PNG. “I have never experienced safety since I was born.” With your support, we have travelled to Manus three times to expose conditions inside the detention centre and to bring the voices of the men trapped inside to the world.
The Australian government must immediately evacuate every person warehoused on Nauru and Manus to safety if it wants to be taken seriously as a human rights leader, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations Human Rights Council in a statement delivered overnight.
The Australian Government today confirmed it would pay $70 million to almost 2000 men, many of whom it has warehoused on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for nearly 4 years.
The Department of Immigration revealed in Budget Estimates that it plans to expand bed capacity at the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre to house up to 440 men on Manus when it closes the detention centre in October.
"It’s not good enough to just leave innocent people trapped in limbo in unsafe conditions forever. Every single one of these men deserves the chance to finally start rebuilding their lives in safety," Daniel Webb said.
“For the last four years we’ve seen report after report - horror story after horror story - detailing the harm people are suffering inside the camp and the serious dangers they face when they venture outside it. How much more evidence do we need?” said Daniel Webb.
Leaked reports reveal that camp managers and security staff contracted by the Australian Government intentionally tried to make conditions in Australia’s detention centre on Manus Island even worse, putting the men who have been held in limbo for almost four years at greater risk of serious harm.
A scathing Senate Committee report has found that conditions inside the Nauru and Manus camps are unsafe and are causing severe harm for which the Australian government is responsible.
The terrifying and violent attack on the men in the Manus Island regional processing centre last night is further proof that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must immediately evacuate the camp and bring the men to safety in Australia.
The Human Rights Law Centre has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to use his PNG trip – which comes at a critical juncture in Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council - to make arrangements for refugees and people seeking asylum languishing on Manus Island to be immediately evacuated to safety.
The offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island continue to be the sites of ongoing human rights violations, including illegal detention, sexual assault and child abuse. Today, a new report by Amnesty exposes how Spanish multinational Ferrovial and its Australian subsidiary Broadspectrum are making vast profits operating Australia’s abusive offshore detention centres.
The daughter of a man being held indefinitely on Manus Island, despite being found to be a refugee, traveled to Canberra to ask politicians to reunite her family, who have been separated for three and a half years by the government’s offshore detention policies.
Today the Human Rights Law Centre joined church groups, medical associations, academics and a coalition of organisations and community groups to call for all refugees and asylum seekers to be immediately evacuated from Nauru and Manus Island and brought to safety in Australia.
The future of the US refugee deal has again been thrown into doubt following reports that US President Donald Trump has called the agreement the ‘worst deal ever’.
Media reports suggest that US President Donald Trump has today told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he will not quash the US refugee deal, but simple and important questions about the detail of the arrangements remain unanswered.
Executive orders signed by US President Donald Trump, imposing a four month freeze on all refugee resettlement to the US and drastically reducing America’s refugee intake thereafter, have exposed further holes in the Turnbull Government’s already uncertain refugee deal.
Executive orders expected to be signed by US President Donald Trump, which would reportedly impose a temporary ban on most refugees and suspend visas for people from many refugee producing countries, have cast further doubt on the Turnbull Government’s already shaky US refugee deal.
In less than three weeks, over 100 children just like Moubani will experience their first Christmas in safety and freedom. This time last year they were trapped behind detention centre fences and terrified of being sent back to Nauru.
The Human Rights Law Centre told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee the proposed ‘lifetime ban’ for people who are living in our community, or who have been warehoused on Nauru or Manus Island is both cruel and unnecessary, and would permanently separate families.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today condemned the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, saying that Australia’s human rights record has been tarnished.
After three years the Australian Government has finally acknowledged that our offshore centres on Nauru and Manus Islands are unsustainable and that it needs to find a way forward. However, today’s announcement reveals it still hasn’t found one.
Human rights groups including the Human Rights Law Centre, GetUp, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre respond to the Turnbull Government’s announcement of a refugee settlement deal.
The Human Rights Law Centre has condemned the Turnbull Government’s secretive deportation of a man from Australia to Nauru last night.
The Human Rights Law Centre has called on the Turnbull Government to urgently clarify whether or not its proposed ‘lifetime ban’ will apply to over 320 men, women and children who are already in the community after being brought back to Australia from Manus and Nauru, many of whom the HRLC represents.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning announced government plans to amend the Migration Act to permanently ban people seeking asylum in Australia by sea from ever being able to stay or from ever coming to Australia to visit loved ones.
Monday night’s Four Corners episode, The Forgotten Children: The young refugees stranded on Nauru, is further evidence that all people currently warehoused by the Australian government on Nauru and Manus must immediately be brought to safety in Australia.
Continuing violent attacks against refugees on Manus Island are further evidence that Australia’s offshore detention centres must close and that the innocent people held there for the last three years must be brought to safety in Australia.
The secrecy provisions of the 2015 Border Force Act have compromised Australians’ basic democratic rights and damaged Australia’s international standing, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations overnight in a statement to the Human Rights Council.
Today’s announcement by the Australian government at the Obama Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis doesn’t address the future of around 2000 people currently languishing in offshore camps on Manus Island and Nauru said the Human Rights Law Centre, Getup and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.
Fleeing persecution, Nayser Ahmed was separated from his family en route to Australia. While they rebuild their lives in Sydney, he remains stuck on Manus Island. In this Fairfax produced video Daniel Webb speaks to The Age's Nick McKenzie about Nayser and his family and the situation for the men on Manus Island. Watch video here.
If we’ve learnt anything from the #LetThemStay campaign. If we’ve learnt anything from Baby Asha and the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. If we’ve learnt anything from the church sanctuary movement, it’s this: on this issue, we can’t sit back and hope for leadership from our politicians. It’s you who must lead them.
Trump is set to sign executive orders imposing a freeze on all refugee resettlement – those detained offshore should be brought to safety in Australia.
Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed lifetime visa ban is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist and an attempt to distract us from one that does.
The proposal is absurd, the wedge politics cynical and the explanations insincere. Sadly, the fear and harm being caused is real.
Our Prime Minister, Immigration Minister and Foreign Minister have spent this week in New York attending high-profile global summits on refugees. They arrived insisting that the Australian government's policies were the "best in the world", but they'll leave having offered little more than self-congratulations.
The PNG government has conceded that the Manus facility must close. But while tearing down the fences would be a significant step, the real issue is not the future of the facility itself but of the 854 men trapped inside it.
Australia’s offshore camps are a house of cards. They’re unsustainable and liable to collapse amid increasing corporate aversion to complicity in abuse, legal uncertainty and human despair.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull's announcement of a royal commission into the abuse of children in Northern Territory jails gives an insight into his instincts on human rights.
Every day that the Manus Island and Nauru camps stay open, people suffer. Every day that Ferrovial operates those centres, it is exposed to risk, writes the HRLC's Rachel Ball.
The PNG Supreme Court's unanimous ruling highlights the harmfulness of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre.
Don't let the crocodile tears of our politicians persuade you otherwise - punishing the survivors of risky voyages will achieve nothing but more suffering, writes our Director of Communications, Tom Clarke.