In the Firing Line (Manus) – Amnesty International


At 7:20pm on Friday 14 April 2017, Amnesty International began receiving text messages, videos and images from refugees and refugee advocates about shots being fired by Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers close to and at the Australian run refugee centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The incident was subsequently widely reported in the Australian media.

However, critical questions remain about what transpired on 14 April.

Based on witness accounts and the limited official information, we know that at around 6:00pm on Friday 14 April, Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers physically assaulted a number of refugees and staff at the refugee detention centre.

The Papua New Guinean Police later stated that the incident involved ‘drunken soldiers’ going on a ‘rampage’, indiscriminately attacking refugees, service providers working at the centre and police officers.

The police confirmed that in addition to physical assaults, some of the soldiers discharged firearms. Luckily, no one was shot or killed on 14 April, but the unlawful use of firearms by soldiers posed clear risks to those at the centre, including refugees, service providers and government officials working there.

Iranian refugee and journalist, Behrouz Boochani, who has been detained at the centre for over three years, claimed on social media that two Sudanese refugees and one Pakistani refugee received injuries from rocks thrown by soldiers, and that one security contractor was badly beaten by soldiers.

Read the full Briefing here

UNHCR – 10 Point Plan in Action

UNHCR has developed the 10-Point Plan of Action on Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration to assist governments and others with incorporating protection considerations into migration policies.

A core strategy document, it outlines 10 areas of work that UNHCR believes need to be undertaken in order to address mixed migration effectively.

Showcasing good practices, the Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration: 10-Point Plan in Action provides examples of how different stakeholders have made use of the 10-Point Plan as a strategic tool to inform the development of immigration and asylum systems and to improve their operational responses.

It includes an extensive collection of recent operational practices, protection-sensitive tools and strategies to assist States and others in developing and implementing protection-sensitive responses that take into account the needs of refugees and migrants travelling within mixed flows as well as sovereignty considerations and the concerns of states.

Read more here

Liberty Vic Report: Immigration Minister’s Unrestrained Power

Playing God: The Immigration Minister’s Unrestrained Power – 2017

Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project have released a report detailing the explosion in personal, discretionary, non-reviewable powers of the Minister for Immigration.

This report argues that the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has too much power.

Many of the powers under the Migration Act, ASIO Act and Maritime Powers Act significantly affect the lives of people seeking asylum, yet they are discretionary, non-delegable, non-compellable and not subject to the rules of natural justice. When the Minister exercises these personal powers, the Minister’s decision is often either difficult or impossible to review. The breadth of the Minister’s discretionary powers creates a real risk that unfair decisions will be made, yet the limited (or lack of) review options mean that there is no avenue for correcting mistakes.

These powers therefore remove the possibility of ensuring that people seeking asylum in Australia are treated fairly or humanely.

Read the report here

See more about the Rights Advocacy Project here

High Court: Govt can detain asylum seekers

Government can detain asylum seekers brought to Australia for medical reasons, High Court finds
By Elizabeth Byrne  –  ABC News – 3 May 2017

The Federal Government continues to have the power to detain people brought to Australia from offshore detention for medical and other reasons, the High Court has ruled.

The case was brought by a mother and daughter from Iran who came to Australia for treatment in 2014.

The two originally landed at Christmas Island in 2013, but were eventually taken to Nauru.

Their lawyers argued under the constitution the Government’s detention powers extended only to those seeking entry with a visa or in the process of being expelled or deported.

The High Court was told none of the criteria applied to the women, because they were not entitled to seek a visa, because of their detention offshore, nor were they in the process of being deported.

The court was told the women had not been detained for a legitimate non-punitive purpose.

But the Government urged the court to throw out the entire challenge, saying its powers were valid.

The court agreed, finding the detention was for a lawful purpose, namely their eventual removal from Australia.

Both have been allowed to live outside detention since late last year.

Read the full article here