16 May 2013

Regional Focus: Australia

Australia's Parliament has passed an amendment that redefines its migration zone in such a way as to render illegal any boat arrivals on the mainland.  Those who do arrive by sea will be subject to offshore processing and detention on Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.  The law does not apply to asylum-seekers who arrive by air. Previously, the zone was limited to islands off the northern coast of Australia (see map).

For more information and initial reactions:
- Australia’s Expanded Excision Law a New Low in Refugee Protection (Refugee Council of Australia, May 2013) [text]
- Government Removes Australia from its Own Borders to Avoid Obligations (Amnesty International, May 2013) [text]
- *New Australian Law: All Asylum Seekers Who Arrive by Boat Will Be Processed Offshore (Human Rights & Democracy, May 2013) [text]
- *New "Excision" Law does not Relieve Australia of its Responsibilities (UNHCR, May 2013) [text]
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Excising Australia from the Migration Zone (The Conversation, May 2013) [text]
- "Parliament Excises Mainland from Migration Zone," ABC News, 16 May 2013 [text]
- What Does "Excising the Mainland from the Migration Zone" Mean? (Australian Immigration Law Weblog, May 2013) [text]

*For background on the consideration of the excision bill that took place earlier in the year, visit the Senate Committee's web pages where you can find, among other things, the submissions to the Committee and the final Committee report.  See also the comment to this post from Jane McAdam.

*Interestingly, it has been reported that subsequent to the Parliament's passage of the new bill, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship released its quarterly asylum statistics showing that asylum-seekers arriving by boat have a higher refugee recognition rate than those who arrive by plane.

I will add more references as they become available.

[Map credit: "Maritime Boundaries and Application of Excision Legislation," Commonwealth of Australia, Jan. 2007]



Asylum Seekers: In Search of a Humanitarian Solution, Melbourne, 22 May 2013 [info]

Human Rights 2013:  The Annual Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference, Melbourne, 26 July 2013 [info]
- Includes session on "Refugees, the rule of law and the ethics of protection."  Registration is ongoing.


Asylum Seekers and Refugees—How Will They be Affected by This Year’s Budget? (FlagPost, May 2013) [text]

"Australia’s Costly Asylum-Seeker Policy Contributes to Nation’s Deficit Woes," Time Magazine, 14 May 2013 [text]

Can Either Side of Politics Stop the Asylum Boats? (Off the Hustings, May 2013) [text]

PromiseWatch 2013: The Houston Panel (Centre for Policy Development, May 2013) [text]

Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities. 

1 comment:

EEM said...

Law professor Jane McAdam at the University of New South Wales provided this comment re. Australia's recent migration amendment:

You might also be interested in adding links to the submissions made to the Australian Senate Committee that considered the excision bill earlier this year, as well as the Committee’s report: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=legcon_ctte/completed_inquiries/2010-13/unauthorised_maritime_arrivals/index.htm.

This was, in effect, a replica of a bill that the Howard government had sought to introduce in 2006, and which was ultimately withdrawn when it became clear that it would be defeated in the Senate, with a number of government Senators threatening to vote against it or abstain. The present government, then in opposition, stated in a dissenting Senate Committee report at the time:

"concerns raised in relation to uncertainty about how the proposed arrangements will work in practice and the lack of accountability mechanisms; domestic policy issues such as the Bill’s flagrant incompatibility with the rule of law and the principles of natural justice; and the clear breach of Australia’s obligations under international law in several significant areas. The Bill also represents a complete ‘about-turn’ with respect to a number of recent reforms, including the principle that children should not be held in detention."

Thus, its introduction of the 2012 bill was a complete about-turn of its own. The history is detailed further in the submissions and report.