Refugees are defined as someone that is in fear of being persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, political or social views whom then travels to another state or country where they will not be persecuted. A refugee is a person that is not able to return the country due to fears of prosecution.
The Abbott Government passed a bill on the 5th of December 2014 after a long debate in the senate 34 senators voted yes whilst 32 were against for the new bill which will see no more refugees receiving permanent protection visas instead they would receive temperament protection visas. The Abbot Government came up with this bill to ‘clear the backlog” of the 30,000 refugees living in detention centres waiting for a visa. Some of the refugees in the communities then had their “visas lapse, with the Government failing to renew them. This meant they lost work rights and access to Medicare, resulting in many people losing their jobs and means of financial independence.” (https://www.asrc.org.au/2014/12/23/changes-to-refugee-law-in-australia/). The Australian people did not support this bill as 5000 individuals or organisations such as Amnesty International publically expressed their concerns, whilst tens of thousands of Australians took their concerns directly to the senators.
The two key issues with this law is that it abuses power of the government and it causes harm to people. The Law states that the Immigration minister is now able to make a life or death decision on a person by either granting a visa or sending them back without court oversight. This means that one person can send back another person which who then will be welcomed by persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political or social views. The second main issue is that it has cause widespread harm to refugees. Refugees have lost work rights and access to Medicare, resulting in many people losing their jobs and means of financial independence. Also for the people sent home it will cause persecution. This bill also does not comply with United Nations Human Rights. The Articles that the Australian government have broken or are sending people back to face are
1. Article 2- “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
2. Article 5- “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
3. Article 13- “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
4. Article 14- “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
5. Article 22- “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization.”
6. Article 23-“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”
The Department of Immigration and Border security are the backbone agency that enforces this new law as well as the Australian Defence Force (Navy). The Department of Immigration and Border Security with help of the Navy are the Agency’s that are in charge of locating refugees and the paperwork of granting or denying the visa after the Immigration Minister (The Hon Peter Dutton) and the foreign minister (The Hon Julie Bishop) have concluded their case. However the refugee is able to appeal the decision in court. It is rare for the government to lose except in the case Plaintiff S297 (Name is not available due to security reasons) v the Minister of Immigration and Border Security. In this case seen by the high court the magistrate awarded the case to Plaintiff S297 ordering the Government to allow this Pakistani refugee a permanent visa under the grounds that the ‘the Minister’s determination made on 4 March 2014 pursuant to s 85 of the Migration Act was invalid’ (http://www7.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/HCA/2014/24.html)
In a media report written by the ABC they summarise the case as “Essentially, the Government’s case was that it was OK to say to S297: “Sorry, you can’t apply for a visa because you’re a boat person. But OK we’ll let you apply. But actually, no, we won’t give you one, because you’re a boat person. The minister can still then reject your application, but it would be nonsensical to say that he could do so solely for the reason that you are an unauthorised maritime arrival. After all, that is the reason you couldn’t apply for a visa in the first place.” (www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-12/bradley-high-court-refugee-ruling-the-lucky-exception/6086612)
In another case where the plaintiff was in danger was the Chen v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (11 March 2005) case. This case was time consuming and in occurred in the federal court of Australia. A young Chinese person was on a temporary student visa which was cancelled by the Australian Government. He was then threatened with detention and deportation. However in this court case the plaintiff was successful with the case and the court ordered that:
“1. A writ of certiorari issue quashing the decision of the Migration Review Tribunal dated 5 May 2004.
2. Remit the matter to the Migration Review Tribunal for further consideration according to law.
3. The respondent pay the applicant’s costs.”
Another case that was found in a Australian media source is Hazara v Refugee Review Tribunal where a truck driver from Afghanistan was denied a protection visa by the Immigration Department. “He fled Kabul in 2011, when another truck driver showed him a letter from the Taliban which named him and urged others to do their “Islamic duty” and get rid of him.” (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-12/immigration-department-loses-appeal-over-afghans-refugee-status/5885148) The High court could not decide if the well-founded fear was ligament and his case will be heard by the high court again at a later date.
To conclude this law has not brought justice to refugees or migrants as it brings uncertainty, it brakes human rights and it also brings fear into their lives that they might one day have to face prosecution. This in turn means that this law has not brought justice to refugees and needs to stop. The Australian Government should be held accountable for this law as it is against human rights and it puts fear into people. In Australia it takes 224 days on average for a refugee to be processed in detention whilst it only takes France 10.5 days and Canada 8 days. This needs to change. Justice will not be brought to stake holders and victims as the laws need to change. Once the law has changed the Australian Government will have more people boosting the economy in taxes. The victims of fear of prosecution or prosecution will be able to live in a country where they don’t have to fear or worry no more.
“To seek refuge their right, to provide refuge our responsibility.”