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Asylum seekers, refugees and human rights: AHRC snapshot report

Policy Online carries a link (30.3.17) to an Australian Human Rights Commission report designed to give parliamentarians, key commentators and the community a clear understanding of the human rights issues that arise from Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker policies.

‘The Commission published its inaugural Snapshot Report on asylum seekers, refugees and human rights in October 2013. The intent of the Report was to provide parliamentarians, key commentators and the community with a clear understanding of the human rights issues that arise from Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker policies. This new edition of the Snapshot Report is updated to reflect on the significant developments in law and policy over the past three years.

‘During that time, there have been some significant positive developments, particularly in relation to immigration detention. The overall number of people in detention has reduced; numerous detention facilities have been closed, including several in remote areas; and almost all children have been released from closed detention facilities.

‘Successive Australian Governments have significantly expanded the use of community alternatives to detention, which promote better health and wellbeing outcomes than closed detention. One of the most positive developments since the publication of the first Snapshot Report has been the reinstatement of work rights for most asylum seekers living in the community.

‘The 2013 Snapshot Report revealed a significant gap between Australia’s human rights obligations under international law and its treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, particularly those who arrive by boat. This updated Report confirms that substantial gaps remain, and some policy changes have given rise to new human rights concerns.’

Trump-Turnbull call: trading people like pawns undermines the goals of international co-operation

Amy Maguire writes in The Conversation (5.8.17) about the fallout and revelations after details of the first phone call between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Donald Trump were made public, including aspects of the two nations’ ‘refugee swap’ deal.

‘What is the point of international co-operation in matters of shared concern? According to the UN Charter, its founding member nations were determined to achieve overarching societal progress based on human rights.

‘The international legal system of the UN era continues to attempt, with mixed success, to promote these goals.

‘Within intricately connected global systems that produce ever-more complex problems, a framework for international co-operation is essential. The international legal system, however imperfect, must be maintained as a bulwark against the wholesale pursuit of domestic political interests.

‘Yet our belief in the efficacy of this system is challenged when the stark reality of international power relations is laid bare. It seems the more insight we have into what happens behind the scenes, the harder it becomes to convince the sceptical that international law has either legal or normative power.’

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