Govt reaches new low with its treatment of asylum seekers

30th Oct 2012

The Gillard Government has reached a new low in its inhumanity towards asylum seekers, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

“Plans by the Gillard Government to excise the entire continent of Australia so as to strip asylum seekers of any rights, represents a shameful new low in Australia’s migration law," Australian Lawyers Alliance Director and criminal law barrister, Greg Barns said today.

“This legislation was even too much for the Howard Government, which detained thousands of asylum seekers including women and children over an 11 year period,” Mr Barns said.

“It is extraordinary that the Gillard Government would even contemplate legislation that ought not to exist in a democratic country like Australia.

"Our legal system is based on the notion that every person, no matter where they come from or their migration status, is entitled to recourse within our legal processes, even to a limited extent,” he said.

“By stripping asylum seekers, who arrive by boat, of any rights will create the most discriminatory piece of legislation seen in Australia since the White Australia Policy.

“If this legislation sees the light of day it would mean that asylum seekers that arrive on any island, or the Australian mainland, will have no recourse to the Australian legal system no matter how desperate they are or how well-founded their claim for asylum is.

"It will also mean that Australian law enforcement and officials will be able to treat asylum seekers in an inhumane way and face no sanctions as they will have no rights under the Australian legal system.

"There is no other democratic nation which has gone so far as to completely strip away from asylum seekers and refugees all legal rights. If this legislation is passed, Australia will rightly be regarded as having perpetrated a serious abuse of human rights and it will be condemned by the United Nations and other international bodies for doing so."

"Finally, it is highly unlikely a draconian and undemocratic law, as proposed by the Gillard Government, will stop asylum seekers arriving to Australia by boat. The factors that motivate people to seek freedom for themselves and their families will not vanish simply because Australia bears its nasty xenophobic underbelly,” Mr Barns said.

Tags: Human rights Migration law Asylum seekers and refugees