Submission: Regional Processing Cohort Bill 2019 - August 2019

The Bill proposes to ban permanently from Australia any person who entered Australia as an unauthorised maritime arrival after 19 July 2013, was transferred to the Republic of Nauru (Nauru) or Papua New Guinea (PNG) for “regional processing”, and was at least 18 years of age at the time of their first (or only) transfer (the Cohort). Such people were forcibly transferred to Nauru or PNG against their will, detained indefinitely, and subjected to serious human rights violations after their transfer.

Recommendation: The Bill should be rejected.

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The effect of this Bill is thus to punish a group of extremely vulnerable people indefinitely, simply for seeking protection—people whom we have already harmed, in their mental health and the suffering we have inflicted, by their being confined in inhumane conditions on Manus Island and Nauru. Many will never recover from our treatment.

The Bill would apply to asylum seekers and refugees who are currently in Nauru or PNG, and others who were transferred to those countries after July 2013 but are now in Australia. It would also apply to those who have found subsequently found refuge in other countries, such as the United States of America. And it would apply to any fresh “unauthorised maritime arrival” who is transferred to offshore processing centres.