Contributed by Adam Carlton
Immigration minister Peter Dutton has caused a storm with announcement that “fake” refugees are going to be dealt with.
He stands accused of contributing to profiling, by using the term to imply all the 7,500 refugees, who have not submitted applications to protection. They have until 1 October.
Those who do not comply will face deportation.
Australia has for a long time breached international obligations in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, such as the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by its 1967 Protocol (the Refugee Convention) that Australia signed on 22 January 1954, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
These conventions were created, when the world had turned against the inhumanity experienced during the Second world War and was determined that history would not be repaeted. It seems that this lesson has been lost on some.
Refugee lawyer David Manne said, “Successive governments left thousands of people in legal limbo not being allowed to apply for protection”.
The Dutton announcement continues Australia’s breech of our obligations.
Advocates have attacked the move as “arbitrary” and the deadline as “cruel and unfair”.
The reality is that refugees had not been able to apply for protection since last November. Then the application documents were made so complex that applicants need legal assistance to answer some 100 questions and for most, their capacity to read English is seriously limited. Without resourcing enough interpreters and legal assistance, many will not be able to have their documentation in by the due date.
GetUp’s human rights director Shen Narayanasamy said, “Asylum claims are incredibly long, torturous documents”.
“And what Peter Dutton has failed to tell you is that he has denied them interpreters and access to legal assistance.”
Consequently, lawyers are warning the Federal Government can expect to see them in court over the new measures.
Critics have suggested that Dutton has created an atmosphere that is not conducive to a fair hearing. The whole system is designed to ensure that most fail. Branding a group as “fake,” before they have had a chance to put their case violates the idea of proper judicial procedure.
Application of Dutton’s new measures may yet prove to be difficult.
It has at least served one purpose for the government and that is to distract attention form other controversies involving its inhumanity towards those desperate people landing on our shores for help.