Senate Committee fails refugees and Australia

March 1, 2013

Media release
For immediate release Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Senate Committee fails refugees and Australia

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released its report into the Inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 on 26 February 2013.

Stephen Keim, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR), who has previously described the Bill as “obscene” and “ridiculous”, today, said that the report from the Committee was ?not much better”.

“The purpose of this Bill is to excise Australia from the Australian Migration Zone and require all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to be sent offshore to Nauru and PNG. In those locations, they will be subject to as yet unestablished refugee processing procedures” Mr Keim said.

“The Bill raises significant issues in relation to Australia’s compliance not only with the Refugee Convention but International Human Rights Law?, said Mr. Keim.  “It is disgusting that the Committee’s report is nothing more than a brief summary of the submissions made to it with no analysis of the issues.  It recommends passage of the Bill based solely on the need to follow the Expert Panel on Asylum Seeker’s Report.  The Committee?s recommendation is made entirely ignoring every submission raised in relation to the Refugee Convention and human rights.”

“The Committee’s only recommendation is to require annual reporting to Parliament on issues such as refugee status determination procedures and outcomes, accommodation, healthcare and education of asylum seekers and refugees in regional processing countries”, said Mr. Keim.

“These are important” says Mr Keim “but the cursory way in which important human rights matters were dealt with, and the lack of any conclusions reached by the Committee in relation to these issues shows that the report is nothing more than a rubber stamp by a Committee dominated by the two major political parties both of which share refugee policies with no grounding in human rights or international refugee law.  This Bill fails to comply with international obligations and fails to protect the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. This Committee?s report is a failure of the Parliamentary Committee process.”