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Australia: returning people to torture since 2014

    December 05, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release


    Amnesty International warns the passage of the Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill through Federal Parliament overnight will inevitably see some refugees returned to the hands of their torturers.

    No avenue to appeal

    Under the flawed "fast track" process, a large number of asylum seekers will have no avenue to appeal the department’s decision about their refugee status.

    "This Bill flies in the face of findings from the United Nations Committee Against Torture which found Australia’s asylum seeker policies contravened the torture convention," said Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International’s Refugee Coordinator.

    "Of particular concern to the UN, Amnesty International and countless other human rights organisations, is that it violates international law by removing any requirement to consider whether a person will be tortured or persecuted if returned home.

    "The bottom line is: this law will have life and death consequences for the asylum seekers who have been waiting for processing in Australia since August 2012.

    "It seems inevitable that these drastic changes to Australia’s refugee processing system will see people in genuine need of protection returned to the hands of their persecutors.

    “For those who do manage to secure Australia’s protection, it will only be granted for a maximum of three years at a time."

    Temporary Protection Visas

    Part of the Bill includes the reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs).

    TPVs were previously introduced under then Prime Minister John Howard. During that time, they were shown to inflict serious harm on refugees’ mental health, with higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress, compared to those with permanent protection.

    "Many refugees arrive in Australia suffering anxiety, depression and trauma. TPVs just make these problems worse.

    "While increasing the refugee intake, granting work rights and releasing children from detention are acknowledged as positive, these elements should not come at the cost of others basic rights, and should have been irrelevant to the passage of this regressive Bill," Dr Thom added.

    Amnesty International Australia previously made a submission to Parliament about the Bill and met with Senators in Canberra last week to discuss the organisation’s serious concerns about the proposal.

    For more information please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332