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Current Advocacy Issues
‘Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’
ACMRO advocates for Australia to end mandatory detention.
ACMRO also advocates that families with children and unaccompanied minors should never under any circumstances be kept in detention.
Detention in Australia remains mandatory for anyone seeking asylum without a valid Australian visa. The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) concludes that Australia’s Immigration Detention system breaches fundamental human rights. The following is several key points made by AHRC in their 2010 report on Christmas Island;
Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states,
‘No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’
Mandatory detention policies violate the prohibition on arbitrary detention.
Isolation of Detention Facilities
ACMRO advocates for Australia to close offshore detention facilities.
The first recommendation of the 2010 AHRC report;
“The Australian Government should stop using Christmas Island as a place in which to hold people in immigration detention. If people must be held in immigration detention facilities, they should be located in metropolitan areas.”
Isolation severely diminishes the ability for government and non-government services to be administered to asylum seekers.
Refugee right to work
ACMRO advocates that detainees who have passed health and security checks be allowed to work under a bridging visa while they await the outcome of their assessment.
The right to work is essential to human dignity and is a fundamental human right recognised in many international and regional human rights instruments, including the 1951 Refugee Convention and under Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For refugees and asylum seekers, the right to work is fundamental to their protection – which must not be confused with the reasons for their flight. Unable to return home, and being without the protection of their own country, refugees must have rights to work in the country of asylum. Denial of the right to work, compounds the persecution, fear, and displacement they have already suffered. It is also in Australia’s best interest. The ability to engage in decent work empowers refugees, enabling self-reliance and contribution to the economy and society.
ACMRO advocates for the Australian government to end the excision policy and process all claims under RSD.
Currently, asylum seekers who arrive onshore are treated in one of three ways depending on their mode of arrival.
Link between onshore and offshore humanitarian schemes and the misconception around queue jumpers
ACMRO advocates that each visa category should have its own target to avoid this link which has led to a very negative portrayal of boat arrivals in the media.
ACMRO also advocates that the total target of 13,750 needs to be more flexible to account for humanitarian emergencies.
Currently, the total refugee and humanitarian granted are separated into three categories
DIAC Annual Report 2009-10
Offshore refugee visas are part of Australia’s 6,000 visa commitment to UNHCR to resettle refugees. This 6000 figure is understood not to fall below 6000 visas. UNHCR would like Australia to increase this number to 10,000.
DIAC targets between 13,500 and 13,750 each year. If more boat arrivals (Onshore Protection visas) are received, Australia grants less Offshore Humanitarian visas. The 13,750 target is maintained regardless of what happens in the world. Therefore, this policy creates the notion that those who arrive by boat are taking places off other refugees (who are sitting in a 10.4 million long queue).
Increase quota on Humanitarian resettlement
ACMRO advocates that Australia’s target of 13,750 should be increased to 20,000.
By the end of 2009, there was an estimated 10.4 million refugees, 1 million Asylum seekers and 27.1 million Internally Displaced People. A total of almost 40 million worldwide are in refugee and refugee like circumstances. In response, Australia granted 13,770 visas under the Humanitarian Program in 2009-10.
ACMRO welcomes the complementary protection bill, however only on the condition that the excision policy and mandatory detention be terminated.
At the end of February 2011, Minister of Immigration Chris Bowen introduced a complementary protection bill to parliament. The bill covers (non refugees) those in need of protection who do not satisfy the legal definition to be awarded refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention. This bill will grant protection to those who face serious human rights violation such as torture, honour killings, cruel or inhuman treatment, arbitrarily deprived of life and the death penalty.