Friday, October 28, 2005

Austalia breaches internationally recognised human rights

The impact of indefinite detention: the case to change Australia’s mandatory detention regime

In the case of children, Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission reports that the average detention period for a child in immigration detention is one year, eight months and 11 days.

- There is no independent judicial review of detention
- the absence of any maximum statutory time limit;
- detention can be indefinite
- violates the right to liberty and security of persons due to its lack of a case by case examination...

Austalia breaches Internationally recognised human rights

By seeking asylum in Australia asylum-seekers are exercising an internationally recognised right to seek asylum.

In doing so, they hope to escape the persecution that forced them to leave their home countries and to find a country where their fundamental rights and human dignity will be respected.

However, asylum-seekers arriving without adequate documentation are subject to the provisions of the Migration Act, which imposes mandatory detention until a decision is made in their case.

They may be detained for a prolonged period, until they are recognised as refugees and released, or following a negative decision, removed or deported.

It is unacceptable that exercising the right to seek asylum in Australia from human rights abuses in other countries should be met with a system that further violates human rights, including administrative detention of a prolonged or indefinite period of time.

Breach of international law

Australia’s policy of mandatory non-reviewable detention places it in breach of several international human rights instruments.

Article 9 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Australia is a party, prohibits arbitrary detention and provides that a detained person must be able to take proceedings before a court that can determine the lawfulness of detention and order release where detention is unlawful.

The rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention are also protected in Articles 3 (right to liberty) and 9 (prohibition on arbitrary detention) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Amnesty International is of the view that detention under Australia’s mandatory detention policy is arbitrary and thus in breach of the ICCPR.

As confirmed by recent High Court decisions, in some circumstances immigration detention in Australia can be of indefinite duration and with no reasonably foreseeable prospect for release.

Amnesty International considers that Australia is also in breach of key provisions of other international instruments, including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child

"We came to a country we heard has human rights and freedom. We can’t believe what’s happening to us … We haven’t any human rights. We are just like animals. We do not have a normal life like a human. Our feeling is dead. Our thinking is dead. We are very sad about everything. We can’t smile." - Ibrahim Ishreti

Ibrahim Ishreti fled persecution in search of safety in Australia. His hope for freedom turned into more than four years of detention, bridging visas, bureaucracy and despair. He is among thousands of men, women and children who have been held for anywhere from six days to six years under Australia’s immigration detention regime.

The policy is inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations.
In particular it violates the right to liberty and security of persons due to its lack of a case by case examination of the necessity and appropriateness of detention, consideration of a reasonable alternative to detention or access to independent review or an effective remedy.

The report provides an overview of the international human rights and refugee law obligations that apply to Australia’s detention of asylum-seekers and refugees and makes clear that Australia’s policy does not accord with international law and standards.

The report provides recommendations the implementation of which would put an end to the indefinite detention of rejected asylum-seekers and would bring Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers into line with its international obligations.

The impact of indefinite detention: the case to change Australia’s mandatory detention regime:

30 June 2005 - Amnesty International

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