2013 - Asylum Seekers

Jo Murphy spoke to the resolution. She suggested that over the past two years the right of people to seek asylum in Australia had been eroded, and many asylum seekers had been treated unjustly and unfairly. In this context, Jo advised that the Asylum Seeker sub-committee had put this resolution to the Committee, which asks for the Australian Government to meet its international obligations, which protects the right to seek asylum, and the rights of asylum seekers in Australia.

Suzanne Tzannes also spoke to the resolution, noting a particular erosion of asylum seeker rights in the past few months, and condemning the government’s use of the term ‘illegal’ in reference to asylum seekers arriving by boat.

There was discussion over the reference to “refugees with adverse ASIO assessments” in point two. Stephen Blanks clarified that this refers only to “mandatory or indefinite detention”, and the rest of point two included all asylum seekers.  

David Bernie proposed an amendment to include a further dot point: The Council calls on the federal government to desist from using the word “illegal” in relation to asylum seekers.

The amendment was accepted by the proposer and incorporated in the resolution.

That the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties calls for all Australian Government policies and statutory instruments to adhere to the principles and spirit of the UN Refugee Convention, Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including:

  • Article 31 - refugees have a lawful right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents
  • Article 31 - no restriction on the freedom of movement of refugees who arrive without authorisation, with the exception of restrictions necessary for regularising their status - no mandatory detention or indefinite detention (Refugees with Adverse ASIO assessment);
  • Article 33 - refugees must not be forcibly expelled or returned to a situation where their life or freedom may be threatened – it is noted that PNG not a suitable destination;
  • Refugees have the same rights as citizens in relation to freedom of religion, intellectual property, access to courts and legal assistance, accessing elementary education, labour rights and social security ;
  • Effective protection must be available to refugees – it is noted this is not likely to be available in PNG
  • The Council calls on the federal government to desist from using the word “illegal” in relation to asylum seekers.

Moved Jo Murphy / Suzanne Tzannes: That the proposed resolution as amended relating to asylum seekers be approved. Carried.