Refugee & Asylum Seeker Rights
The Asylum Seeker and Refugee Rights Unit was established in January 2015. Our vision is that Australia treats all people seeking asylum with decency and respect for their basic human rights while working constructively towards a safe, humane and orderly approach to forced displacement.
We work to achieve lasting systemic change and to mitigate the worst aspects of the current system in the interim. We do this by focussing on:
- Action beyond our borders - We target government and corporate action on Nauru and Manus Island and on the high seas - the sites of least transparency and greatest injustice;
- The worst excesses onshore - We also challenge the most acute human rights abuses onshore - arbitrary detention, secrecy, regressive legal changes and abuses in detention; and
- Advocating for humane policy alternatives - We are a principled and credible voice for a more humane, lawful and constructive policy approach. Our public advocacy helps establish the preconditions for lasting change.
Another man held by the Australian Government on Manus Island has been found dead. It is reported that the refugee’s body was found in dense jungle on the island. He was one of over 900 men who came to Australia seeking safety but have been held on Manus for four years.
“I just cried as I was reading the transcripts of the most two powerful leaders in this world. Their words made me feel like I am just a product to them and I can be traded for anything.”
“I am just a human being and there is no need to play with my life. All I want is to respect and love others and be loved and respected in return. All I need is a sense of belonging to a safe country so that I can live a life that every human deserves.” - Imran Mohammad, a refugee held on Manus Island for almost four years.
“Turnbull was clearly more concerned with appearances than reality - totally preoccupied with maintaining the facade of the deal irrespective of whether or not anyone will actually find safety under it.”
“We are seeing a chain of attacks against refugees. The local police can’t protect us. We are being forced to live in constant fear,” said Behrouz Boochani.
Today the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, revealed that the Australian Government misled the UN while seeking its support for the controversial US refugee resettlement deal.
“All the men on Manus and the families and children on Nauru want – all they have ever wanted – is a life in safety and freedom. They’ve had four years of their life taken from them. They deserve a future.” says Daniel Webb.
News that US officials interviewing refugees on Nauru have walked out two weeks before their scheduled departure time has cast more doubt on the future of the US resettlement deal.
Behrouz Boochani, a refugee currently held on Manus Island said, "All the men here have families, and four years with no certainty for their future is already too much."
Responding to reports that France has withdrawn its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council – meaning Australia and Spain can be elected to the world’s peak human rights body unopposed – Emily Howie, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the HRLC, said Australia has work to do in order to fulfill the duties of a Council member.
The Australian Government must evacuate every man, woman and child currently warehoused on Manus and Nauru and bring them to safety in Australia, the United Nations said overnight.
Imran Mohammad is a Rohingyan refugee whom our Government has detained for the last four years on Manus Island in PNG. “I have never experienced safety since I was born.” With your support, we have travelled to Manus three times to expose conditions inside the detention centre and to bring the voices of the men trapped inside to the world.
The Australian government must immediately evacuate every person warehoused on Nauru and Manus to safety if it wants to be taken seriously as a human rights leader, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations Human Rights Council in a statement delivered overnight.
The Australian Government today confirmed it would pay $70 million to almost 2000 men, many of whom it has warehoused on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for nearly 4 years.
The Department of Immigration revealed in Budget Estimates that it plans to expand bed capacity at the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre to house up to 440 men on Manus when it closes the detention centre in October.
"It’s not good enough to just leave innocent people trapped in limbo in unsafe conditions forever. Every single one of these men deserves the chance to finally start rebuilding their lives in safety," Daniel Webb said.
“For the last four years we’ve seen report after report - horror story after horror story - detailing the harm people are suffering inside the camp and the serious dangers they face when they venture outside it. How much more evidence do we need?” said Daniel Webb.
Leaked reports reveal that camp managers and security staff contracted by the Australian Government intentionally tried to make conditions in Australia’s detention centre on Manus Island even worse, putting the men who have been held in limbo for almost four years at greater risk of serious harm.
A scathing Senate Committee report has found that conditions inside the Nauru and Manus camps are unsafe and are causing severe harm for which the Australian government is responsible.
The terrifying and violent attack on the men in the Manus Island regional processing centre last night is further proof that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must immediately evacuate the camp and bring the men to safety in Australia.
The Human Rights Law Centre has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to use his PNG trip – which comes at a critical juncture in Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council - to make arrangements for refugees and people seeking asylum languishing on Manus Island to be immediately evacuated to safety.
The offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island continue to be the sites of ongoing human rights violations, including illegal detention, sexual assault and child abuse. Today, a new report by Amnesty exposes how Spanish multinational Ferrovial and its Australian subsidiary Broadspectrum are making vast profits operating Australia’s abusive offshore detention centres.
The daughter of a man being held indefinitely on Manus Island, despite being found to be a refugee, traveled to Canberra to ask politicians to reunite her family, who have been separated for three and a half years by the government’s offshore detention policies.
Today the Human Rights Law Centre joined church groups, medical associations, academics and a coalition of organisations and community groups to call for all refugees and asylum seekers to be immediately evacuated from Nauru and Manus Island and brought to safety in Australia.
The future of the US refugee deal has again been thrown into doubt following reports that US President Donald Trump has called the agreement the ‘worst deal ever’.
Media reports suggest that US President Donald Trump has today told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he will not quash the US refugee deal, but simple and important questions about the detail of the arrangements remain unanswered.
Executive orders signed by US President Donald Trump, imposing a four month freeze on all refugee resettlement to the US and drastically reducing America’s refugee intake thereafter, have exposed further holes in the Turnbull Government’s already uncertain refugee deal.
Executive orders expected to be signed by US President Donald Trump, which would reportedly impose a temporary ban on most refugees and suspend visas for people from many refugee producing countries, have cast further doubt on the Turnbull Government’s already shaky US refugee deal.
In less than three weeks, over 100 children just like Moubani will experience their first Christmas in safety and freedom. This time last year they were trapped behind detention centre fences and terrified of being sent back to Nauru.
The Human Rights Law Centre told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee the proposed ‘lifetime ban’ for people who are living in our community, or who have been warehoused on Nauru or Manus Island is both cruel and unnecessary, and would permanently separate families.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today condemned the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, saying that Australia’s human rights record has been tarnished.
If we’ve learnt anything from the #LetThemStay campaign. If we’ve learnt anything from Baby Asha and the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. If we’ve learnt anything from the church sanctuary movement, it’s this: on this issue, we can’t sit back and hope for leadership from our politicians. It’s you who must lead them.
Trump is set to sign executive orders imposing a freeze on all refugee resettlement – those detained offshore should be brought to safety in Australia.
Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed lifetime visa ban is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist and an attempt to distract us from one that does.
The proposal is absurd, the wedge politics cynical and the explanations insincere. Sadly, the fear and harm being caused is real.
Our Prime Minister, Immigration Minister and Foreign Minister have spent this week in New York attending high-profile global summits on refugees. They arrived insisting that the Australian government's policies were the "best in the world", but they'll leave having offered little more than self-congratulations.
The PNG government has conceded that the Manus facility must close. But while tearing down the fences would be a significant step, the real issue is not the future of the facility itself but of the 854 men trapped inside it.
Australia’s offshore camps are a house of cards. They’re unsustainable and liable to collapse amid increasing corporate aversion to complicity in abuse, legal uncertainty and human despair.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull's announcement of a royal commission into the abuse of children in Northern Territory jails gives an insight into his instincts on human rights.
Every day that the Manus Island and Nauru camps stay open, people suffer. Every day that Ferrovial operates those centres, it is exposed to risk, writes the HRLC's Rachel Ball.
The PNG Supreme Court's unanimous ruling highlights the harmfulness of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre.
Don't let the crocodile tears of our politicians persuade you otherwise - punishing the survivors of risky voyages will achieve nothing but more suffering, writes our Director of Communications, Tom Clarke.