Asylum seekers and refugees

Australia’s current asylum seekers policies and practices are a gross breach of human rights and decency. CCL gives very high priority to helping bring about fundamental reform to these policies. We prioritise advocacy for the restoration of Australia’s commitment to respect and fulfil our international human rights obligations, especially in relation to the Convention for the Security of Refugees, which the Australian Government has so shamefully repudiated in law and in practice.

Specific priorities include the reinstatement of a pathway to permanent visas; an end to indefinite detention of refugees resulting from ASIO adverse security assessments; clear policy separation of ‘border security’; and ‘national security’; visa cancellations  and an ongoing update of CCL policy in response to the latest Australian Government policies and practices.

COVID & immigration detention: a disaster waiting to happen

A COVID out break inside immigration detention centres was a disaster waiting to happen. The Australian Government and Border Force cannot claim they had not been warned, nor that they had insufficient time to respond.

Civil rights organisations, including the NSWCCL have, for months, been bringing our concerns to the Minister and his Department, however our representations fell on deaf ears. 

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Torture in Villawood - and Ombudsman meetings

CCL has been concerned about the treatment in Immigration Detention Centres, and particularly in Villawood, of detainees who are put into quarantine for fourteen days when they return from medical or dental appointments outside of the centres. 

Now The Saturday Paper reports that a detainee who was identified as a contact of a guard at Villawood who contracted COVID-19 has similarly been put into isolation in a room with no view outside and minimal furniture. Even worse, this time the light has been left on all night. This, as he complains, is a recognised form of torture.  

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It's not too late to release refugees over COVID concerns

In the light of news that at least one guard has tested positive, NSWCCL is renewing its calls for refugees to be released from detention immediately.

Last week news broke that a guard at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA),  had tested positive for COVID-19 — the Delta variant.  MITA is one of the larger detention centres for asylum seekers and non-citizens who have had their visas cancelled under the character test provisions of the Migration Act.  

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Detainees in 'punishment cell conditions' for quarantine

NSWCCL is increasingly concerned about the impact on detainees in our immigration detention facilities of current quarantine arrangements. In particular, the treatment of people who return to detention centres after medical appointments is unacceptable.

  • They are confined in small rooms for a fortnight.
  • There is nothing in the room except a bed, an open toilet and a wash basin.
  • The windows are tinted, so detainees cannot see out.
  • There is no access to personal possessions.
  • No reading material is available - not even a Bible, Torah or Koran.
  • There's no exercise outside of the room.
  • A change of under clothes may not be available for several days. 
  • There is a buzzer to call for attention, but people may have to wait for a lengthy period for a response. 
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Catch-22 for refugee

According to coverage by the Guardian, a refugee who has lived in Bris for a decade, with permanent residency, was given five days to respond to notice of intent to cancel his visa. The issue? He was required to document his identity for his citizenship application, but there's no reliable way to do so.

We have written to the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, for clarification - we hope to hear that the man's citizenship application has been accepted.



Afghanistan: seven steps the government should take NOW

The news coming out of Afghanistan in the wake of the military withdrawal is as disturbing as it was tragically predictable. 

NSWCCL is joining with the Refugee Council of Australia and others to call on the Government to take seven steps immediately:

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Translators in Afghanistan: the Government must act now

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties wrote to Senator Marise Payne today calling for urgent action to rescue people employed by Australia in Afghanistan now, without long delays checking on health, security and character. 

Comments from our Government that those working through subcontractors are not eligible, or that the Government is following rules drawn up by the previous Labour government, are deeply disturbing.

It's time for action, not political point scoring.



NSWCCL calls on DFAT to retract Sri Lanka report

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is calling DFAT to withdraw its 2019 Country Information Report - Sri Lanka, relied on to refuse protection to Tamils including the Murugappan family, due to concerns over its currency and accuracy.

DFAT's country report was criticised recently (27 May) by a UK Upper Tribunal, along with a similar UK report, which the UK Home Office removed the next day (28 May) as it was 'out of date'.

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Refugee week: five steps the Government should take

Refugee Week 2021: Australia is watching the unfolding fate of the Biloela family, leading us to reflect on the harm that our Government has caused - and continues to cause - to vulnerable people.

Ironically, refugee week began in Australia in 1986 before spreading to other countries. Fast forward 35 years and we have the dubious distinction of years of international condemnation for our illegal detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Compounding this, we routinely separate families; our family reunification processes have been labelled 'discriminatory' by the UN; and advocates say refugees are being overlooked in our vaccine rollout.

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UNHCR slams Australia's approach

Senate inquiry, which started in February, is examining the processing of family and partner reunion visas over concerns the system is being plagued by lengthy waiting times and exorbitant costs.

In a submission to this enquiry, The UNHCR slammed Australia and specifically pointed to the disproportionate impact of these challenges on refugees trying to bring family into Australia.

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