The decision to deny 11-month-old Ferouz Myuddin a protection visa precedes a plan by Tony Abbott’s government to retrospectively deny all babies born to asylum seekers the right to seek refugee status. An amendment bill containing extensive changes to the Migration Act was tabled by the federal government last month. The bill would remove most references to the refugee convention and legalise boat turnarounds. The Coalition government also wants all babies born to asylum seekers who arrived by boat after August 13, 2012 to be declared “unauthorised maritime arrivals”.
Continuous protests in the Nauru refugee detention camp peaked with up to 600 people breaking out of the family compound just after midnight on October 10. An asylum seeker told Sydney’s Refugee Action Coalition (RAC): “Day to day, night to night, the situation on Nauru is getting more serious for us.” The protests have been accompanied by self-harm and suicide attempts, including one person hanging themselves, a 15-year-old girl swallowing detergent, others ingesting washing powder, lip-stitching and a hunger strike.
G4S was labelled “fundamentally flawed” in 2005, when its operation of onshore detention centres led to the wrongful detention and mistreatment of Australian resident Cornelia Rau, as well as the detention of Naomi Leong from birth until she was three years old, and several cases of “unsafe and inhumane” treatment of refugees.
Every day, Manus Island detainees negotiate rocky ground strewn with coral, rotting shower blocks and “filthy” living conditions. They do this mostly in rubber thongs. A cut foot is likely, septicemia possible and a heart attack followed by a coma and brain death? Wait a minute, let’s go back.
The first asylum seeker to be forcibly returned to Afghanistan begged an Australian court for help the day he was due to be deported. The judge used a two-year out-of-date security assessment of Afghanistan to rule that the 29-year-old ethnic Hazara’s home district, Jaghori, was “reasonably stable”. “Jaghori is confined, it’s like a prison,” the man said through an interpreter, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. “The surrounding areas are all controlled by the Taliban. Many people die on the way to Jaghori.”
The release of up to 150 children under the age of 10 from residential detention is not a humanitarian move by the government, in case you were wondering. Immigration minister Scott Morrison claimed that issuing bridging visas to 150 children and their families to live in the community was a “dividend of stopping the boats”.
An inhumane policy that damages some to deter others. Detention centres that cause psychiatric disorders, self-harm and suicide. Arbitrary. Unjust. Cynical. This is how an open letter, named "J'accuse", signed by more than 220 psychiatrists, human rights lawyers, priests, health professionals and other experts describes Australia’s refugee policy.
The 157 Tamil refugees who refused “a very good” deal to be deported to India now face the orchestrated despair of detention on Nauru. The refugees were delivered to Nauru on August 2 without the knowledge of their lawyers and reportedly showing “clear signs of manhandling and trauma”. Human rights lawyer George Newhouse said he had “not had the opportunity to inform our clients of their rights and options.
Immigration minister Scott Morrison has spun many lies in his role as “border protector”. They have come hard and fast as the government tries to deal with the 157 Tamil refugees kept at sea aboard a Customs ship for weeks. Below are the four biggest lies that have underpinned this case and the Coalition's entire anti-refugee policy. WHY THE BOAT WAS BROUGHT TO THE MAINLAND Morrison said on July 26 the 157 people would be brought to Curtin detention centre in remote north-west Western Australia so identity checks could be carried out by Indian officials.
The case of 153 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka taken into Australian custody at sea returned to the High Court on July 18. Due to government secrecy, court proceedings have so far been the only reliable source of information about what is happening to the group. Documents submitted to the High Court on July 17 revealed further details about the conditions in which 153 Tamil asylum seekers are being held. Lawyers representing 86 of those taken aboard an Australian Customs ship but not brought to Australia say the asylum seekers have not been able to make any formal refugee claims.
The “incommunicado detention without judicial scrutiny” of 153 Tamil asylum seekers has turned the world's eyes on Australia's refugee policy and brought many questions into the spotlight. The first question was raised by 53 international law scholars from 17 Australian universities, who released a statement after the government revealed it had handed over 41 passengers of an asylum boat to the Sri Lankan navy.
Nine days before the Senate changeover, the High Court ruled that immigration minister Scott Morrison’s cap on the number of protection visas he could grant was invalid. In March, using his arbitrary ministerial powers, Morrison limited the maximum number of protection visas to be granted in the financial year to 2773 — the exact number already given. This was in response to Labor and the Greens uniting in the Senate to block the reintroduction of temporary protection visas (TPVs).
More than half a million Iraqis have been displaced and hundreds killed after the fall of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul to Islamic fundamentalists. But even as the crisis in Iraq dramatically worsens, Australia is refusing to offer any reprieve for the thousands of Iraqi refugees in its care.
World Refugee Day is dedicated each year to raising awareness about the more than 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. The United Nations and non-government organisations usually share refugee stories and make pleas for compassion and empathy. But in Australia, refugees and asylum seekers are treated like the enemy in a war: the target of a highly resourced, military-led “deterrence” strategy complete with arbitrary detainment, detention camps, guards to terrorise them, forced deportations and the violent suppression of those who protest.
The Australian government’s review of the February violence on Manus Island leaves critical questions unanswered and does not call for the detention camp to be closed. Robert Cornall’s 107-page administrative review, released on May 26, includes a detailed account of 23-year-old Reza Berati’s death and identifies a Salvation Army employee as instigating the attack.
For years the federal budget has been brutal on refugees and asylum seekers. Each year for the past two decades, visa places have been cut or made more difficult to gain, and services and rights to appeal are cut. The rights of people seeking protection in Australia are slowly eroded while detention centres get bigger and bigger budgets. Now, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have revealed a budget that takes the war on refugees to new heights — with a newly merged border control agency, more patrol boats and the axing of independent oversight of refugee processing.