find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Legal bodies join UN in condemning asylum seeker policies

Legal bodies join UN in condemning asylum seeker policies

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) and the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) have echoed the concerns of the United Nations Committee on Torture, which has slammed Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.

The committee published its report on Australia’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture on Friday 28 November. It was particularly critical of the government’s boat turnbacks and the ‘screening out’ of asylum seekers.

A spokesperson for ALHR, Claire Hammerton, said Australia’s compliance with international human rights standards is worsening.

“The Committee’s latest report unfortunately bears that out,” Hammerton said.

According to the report, the federal government’s Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment Bill, which is before the Senate this week, would put Australia at high risk of non-compliance with the convention.

The Bill states that an officer’s duty is to remove as soon as reasonably practical an unlawful non-citizen, irrespective of whether there has been an assessment. However, the convention prohibits countries from returning or ‘refouling’ anyone to a place “where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture”.

The committee said the government should not adopt legislation that would lower existing safeguards and standards of protection.

Hammerton urged senators to respect the UN committee’s cautions and reject the Bill outright.

“Each of the schedules of the Bill increases the risk of Australia breaching its non-derogable, international obligations to provide protection to individuals and to not return them to danger, not just under the Convention against Torture, but also the Refugee Convention and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” she said.

HRLC’s director of legal advocacy, Daniel Webb, who was in Geneva for the review, commented that the UN was clearly troubled by the government’s proposed amendments to the Migration Act.

“The prohibition on torture is absolute. Australia can’t torture people, nor can we send them back to a place where they’re in danger of being tortured by others,” he said.

“The UN Committee’s findings make it clear that intercepting and returning asylum seekers without fairly and thoroughly assessing their refugee claims is fundamentally incompatible with this vitally important obligation.”

Like Hammerton, Webb urged the government to work towards implementing the UN committee’s recommendations, which include guaranteeing that all asylum seekers have access to legal assistance.

Last month, the head of HRLC told Lawyers Weekly that lawyers are currently battling to access clients on Manus Island.

The committee also recommended that the government repeal the provisions establishing the mandatory detention on Manus Island and Nauru. It stated that detaining adults – and especially children – was at odds with the convention on torture and that mandatory detention should only be used a last resort and for as short a period as possible.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Legal bodies join UN in condemning asylum seeker policies
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 23 2017
Education a passion for YL president
Promoted by University of Melbourne. Melbourne Law Masters student Phoebe Blank is successfully j...
Nov 23 2017
Anti-radicalisation programs playing ‘second fiddle’ to terrorism laws
Several academics have questioned the balance between Australia’s counterterrorism legislation and...
 William Ah Ket
Nov 23 2017
‘Bamboo ceiling’ thought piece wins inaugural law prize
A paper that explores the idea of affirmative action to achieve greater diversity among members of A...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...