Amnesty International: Expert panel recommendations a major setback for refugee policy
|A protest in Melbourne regarding treatment of asylum seekers (c) Takver|
Amnesty International is appalled with the Refugee Expert Panel’s recommendations, which threaten to take Australia back to the bad old days of the so-called ‘Pacific Solution’.
The panel’s report excises Australia from the Migration Act, ignoring altogether the fundamental right to seek asylum or the realities of why vulnerable people flee from horrific circumstances.
“Sending asylum seekers to places like Malaysia, Nauru and Papua New Guinea is unacceptable and a complete outsourcing of Australia’s human rights obligations,” said Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International’s refugee spokesperson.
“The ‘Pacific Solution’ was a failed policy, and a wildly expensive one, that was internationally condemned for breaching the human rights of some of the world's most vulnerable people.
"People languished in Nauru for years out of sight of public and media scrutiny, before ultimately ending up in Australia. It is shocking to see the panel favour punitive measures that deliberately hold vulnerable people hostage, separate families and leave them in limbo.
“Amnesty International welcomes the proposed increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake and the panel’s recommendation for Australia to work further to increase regional protection.
“Any solutions focussed on punishing refugees and asylum seekers rather than protecting them are illegal under Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.
“Amnesty International has also consistently highlighted the human rights abuses faced by refugees in Malaysia, including caning and arbitrary detention in horrific conditions. Such solutions are actually counter-productive and will undermine any regional solution that is concerned with the genuine protection of refugees,” said Dr Thom.
It is a lack of safe options across the region which forces refugees onto boats to Australia. Improving this situation is absolutely key to stopping people taking dangerous boat journeys. The panel has failed to deliver a detailed recommendation that will achieve this.
Amnesty International urges all parties not to support recommendations that directly breach Australia’s human rights obligations.
To read Amnesty International’s full submission to the panel, click here