Articles on Refugees

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Asked to describe their situation, many children in detention drew pictures to express their feelings of hopelessness and despair. Author supplied

Eyewitness: With Gillian Triggs on Christmas Island to inspect child detainees

If a visit to Christmas Island sounds like fun, think again. A remote tropical island in the Indian Ocean – billed as a birdwatcher’s paradise and a haven for snorkelling – has a dark side. It is “home…
Australia’s judiciary has emerged as a political and activist institution, frustrating the militarised strategies of the Abbott government in asylum policy. AAP/Lukas Coch

High Court asylum case pits the executive against the judiciary

The full bench of the High Court will hear the case of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers currently on an Australian customs vessel over two days, starting on August 5. But when the High Court issued an injunction…
Tragedies such as the boat sinking off Lampedusa, Italy, In October 2013 help put Australia’s asylum ‘problem’ into a global perspective. EPA/Ettore Ferrari

Australia puzzles a world with far more asylum seekers of its own

From the perspective of the global north, Australia has always been an oddity. Its policies often seem as strange and inexplicable as its fauna. “They are strange those Australians, strangers to the world…
In its asylum policy, Australia takes advantage of the fact that international law is not automatically absorbed into its domestic legal system. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia’s global reputation at stake in High Court asylum case

The Australian government gave an undertaking to the High Court on Wednesday that it would not surrender or deliver the asylum seekers detained on an Australian customs vessel on the high seas to Sri Lankan…
In previous cases, the High Court has held that asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island have a right to procedural fairness. AAP/Scott Fisher

Preventing asylum seekers’ return to harm through the High Court

Later today, the High Court is due to hear a challenge to the screening and transfer of a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to Sri Lankan authorities. Under international law, return of persons…

The political and geographical limits of morality

The Abbott government’s asylum seeker policy is heartless, selfish, non-transparent, possibly in breech of international law, certainly a violation of progressive international norms – but it seems to…
Australia may be placing the life of Tamil asylum seekers at risk by directly handing them over to a government they claim to be fleeing without first adequately assessing their safety. AAP/Scott Fisher

Handing over Tamils to the state they fled breaks international law

Australia appears to have reached a new all-time low in its violation of international obligations and its treatment of vulnerable people seeking Australia’s protection. If widespread media reports are…
Immigration minister Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to the Migration Act are designed to reduce adherence to Australia’s international legal obligations. AAP/Alan Porritt

Punishment not protection behind Morrison’s refugee law changes

Earlier this week, immigration minister Scott Morrison introduced the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill in response to a High Court decision that ruled invalid his move to cap the…
Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee boy is a great example. David Morris

Children’s books on the refugee experience are crucial reading

While facts and figures are useful to understand the scale of the refugee problem, for most people it’s the personal angle that they best relate to. But this personal angle, and the sympathy and understanding…
The Senate inquiry into the violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February has heard that a key contributing factor to the riots was the delay in processing asylum seekers’ claims. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Slow refugee processing creates fear and uncertainty on Manus Island

It’s been a busy Refugee Week so far. The High Court dismissed a constitutional challenge to offshore processing of asylum seekers, while the federal Labor caucus rejected an internal motion calling for…
Detainees protest in the Woomera centre in 2002: ‘Animals in Australia have more rights than we have!’ one wrote. AAP/Tom Miletic

In Australia, animals have better rights than asylum seekers

Several years ago an asylum seeker wrote a letter about his experiences at the now-decommissioned Woomera Detention Centre. This is an extract: I have been in this cage for 13 months … Why should all these…
Whichever way you add up the sums, Australians pay far too high a price for the government’s refugee policy. AAP/DIAC

Penny wise, pound foolish: how to really save money on refugees

At a cost of A$826.1 million in the 2014-15 federal budget, the processing and detention of around 2500 asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money. The government’s…
Protesters in Brisbane at a rally against the Australian government’s asylum seekers policy on April 12, 2014. AAP/Andrew Stevenson

Why care about the health and well-being of asylum seekers?

A report on the refugee detention centre in Nauru by five independent clinical experts posted online by The Guardian on Friday paints a bleak picture of life on the island, particularly for children. But…
The report into the Manus Island riots in which Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed raises critical questions about the long-term sustainability of offshore processing. AAP/Dan Peled

Manus violence report highlights the futility of offshore processing

The report on the issues leading up to and including the riots that took place in the Manus Island detention centre in February partially lifts the veil on the complex inner workings of offshore processing…
Nauru is too small to be able to cope with a significant number of resettled asylum seekers – hence the mooted proposals to resettle genuine refugees in Cambodia. AAP/Department of Immigration

Price of resettling refugees should not be our silence on Cambodia

In recent weeks, Abbott government ministers have been spruiking a plan for Cambodia to resettle some or all asylum seekers on Nauru who are found to be genuine refugees. While the Australian and Cambodian…

Asylum seekers: praying for change

Yesterday around 20 Christian activists staged sit-ins in Sydney at the office of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and in Melbourne at that of Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. The protesters included…
Many Australians feel the government should maintain a tough policy on asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Hadi Zader/Flickr

What underlies public prejudice towards asylum seekers?

According to a poll taken last December, 60% of those surveyed think the Australian government should “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers”. What’s behind this negative sentiment (otherwise…
The transfer of asylum seekers to detention centres in Papua New Guinea is a clear violation of Australia’s international law obligations. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Asylum seekers: we can’t ignore our international law obligations

This week’s Four Corners investigation on the circumstances surrounding the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre in February was uncomfortable viewing. The ABC…
Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. AAP/Ava Benny-Morrison

From Darfur to Cipayung: refugees are left stranded

The Abbott government has celebrated the 100th day without any asylum seeker boats reaching Australian territory. This is the result of policies that favour the protection of borders rather than of people…

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