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Aust: Human Rights Commission on Migration Act

HREOC appear before Senate Inquiry into Migration Act

The President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission John von Doussa QC and staff provided oral evidence before the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee’s Inquiry into the administration and operation of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) in Canberra today.

For over a decade the Commission has expressed its serious and grave concerns about the mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals and the conditions and treatment of children and adults detained under this regime.

The Commission has undertaken extensive work relating to the human rights of people detained under the Migration Act, including four major reports dealing with broad systemic issues - the latest ‘A last resort?’ – Report of the Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention was released in 2004.

Mr von Doussa congratulated the government on the recent changes to Australia’s migration regime, particularly the amendments made by the Migration Amendment (Detention Arrangements) Act 2005.

“However, in my view, those amendments do not go far enough. In particular they do not create enforceable rights and depend entirely upon an exercise of Ministerial discretion, which is neither reviewable nor compellable,” he said.

“The Commission considers that, as a consequence, Australia is not meeting its obligations to provide ‘effective remedies’ for violations of human rights, particularly the right not to be arbitrarily detained.

“HREOC considers that those obligations are best met by providing that the ongoing appropriateness of detention be periodically reviewed by a Court empowered to order release.”

The Commission’s written submission to the Committee’s Inquiry is available at:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte/migration/submissions/sublist.htm

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