Latest Bulletin from the Refugee Council of Australia

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BULLETIN FOR MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS
13 October 2014

Welcome to the latest bulletin from the Refugee Council of Australia.  We welcome feedback, ideas or information worth sharing. Please contact us at admin@refugeecouncil.org.au.

Paul Power, CEO, Refugee Council of Australia

NEWS FROM THE REFUGEE COUNCIL

New asylum and maritime legislation strips away checks on Ministerial powers

RCOA condemned the Federal Government’s new Bill to amend asylum and maritime powers as a comprehensive assault on Australia’s obligations to protect victims of persecution. RCOA produced a preliminary overview of the amendments and issued a statement critical of the Government’s plans to strip away the already limited safeguards for people seeking asylum. The statement said that, while the legislation was presented to the public as a humane political compromise between the Government and the Palmer United Party to remove children from detention and provide a pathway to a permanent visa for refugees, there appeared to be no clear pathway to permanent protection. RCOA drew attention to amendments in the 118-page Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 that if passed by Parliament, would introduce changes to strip away fairness for people seeking refugee protection and prevent the courts from intervening to ensure that the Minister acted in accordance with the rule of law and in line with Australia’s treaty obligations. Read the statement and overview at http://refugeecouncil.org.au/n/mr/140926_AsylumLegacyBill.pdf

RCOA launches consultations on Refugee and Humanitarian Program

This week, RCOA starts its national consultations on the future of Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program. This year’s consultations with service providers, refugee community members and interested members of the public will be held in a number of metropolitan and regional locations in Australia and focus on three key issues: Australia’s response to international refugee needs; Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program; and implications of the program on other priorities. The consultations inform RCOA’s annual submission to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection on issues the Australian Government should consider in planning the coming year’s refugee program. As in previous years, this consultation and submission process is funded by the Government through a contract with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the only regular Federal Government funding RCOA now receives). RCOA has produced a discussion paper to assist people participating in the consultations. The schedule of consultations is still being finalised but the current schedule and the discussion paper are available at http://refugeecouncil.org.au/r/isub.php. If you cannot make it to an information and consultation meeting but would like to contribute your views, please contact us to arrange a phone interview or email your thoughts to admin@refugeecouncil.org.au.

Torture case prompts call for Australia to suspend returning asylum seekers

RCOA President Phil Glendenning repeated his plea for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to suspend forcible returns of asylum seekers to Afghanistan following revelations in The Saturday Paper that an asylum seeker, Zainullah Naseri, who was returned in August was then abducted and tortured by the Taliban. The story by writer, researcher and RCOA board member Abdul Karim Hekmat, recounted Zainullah’s abduction and torture and the fear and uncertainty he is now experiencing in Afghanistan. Mr Glendenning, who visited Afghanistan in mid August, had asked Departmental officials in late August not to proceed with the forced return of Zainullah, informing them of the serious deterioration in security conditions in the country he had witnessed during his visit just a week earlier. In a statement, Mr Glendenning said: “Our Government repeatedly claims that its motivation in stopping asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia is to save lives. It would be grossly hypocritical of the Government to continue forced returns of Afghan citizens knowing that their return could well mean a death sentence.” Read the statement at http://refugeecouncil.org.au/n/mr/141007_AfghanReturns.pdf


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