Asylum seekers at the immigration detention centre located in Nauru have initiated a protest as a result of slow-claim processing. Although the Commonwealth Secretariat define asylum seekers as “someone yet to be considered for refugee status under immigration laws” (2006: 138), it is clear that the asylum seekers have no chance of being settled in Australia as a result of a deal announced by Kevin Rudd.
Refugees have the right to seek asylum in another country where they are free from persecution, enjoy all basic human rights and be given favourable treatment equal to nationals such as “free association, religion, elementary education, public relief, access to courts, property and housing” (p.141). It appears that the asylum seekers are justified in protesting because they are not being considered refugee status in a case-by-case status and are instead, lumped together and being transferred under the new government deal to another place where someone else can deal with their refugee status.
The Refugee Convention states that “people will not be penalised for trying to seek the protection of a country” (Lambert & Pickering, 2001: 220). Again, the asylum in this news article are clearly being penalised by being institutionalised until they are relocated to present themselves as an issue to someone else’s government. It has been said that 80% of those consequently detained, meet the strict definition of the refuge criteria (p. 222).
Human rights can be defined as “generally accepted principles of fairness and justice inherent in every individual by virtue of their humanity” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 13), which paints a clear picture of a breach of human rights by the Australian Government. According to the UN Refugee Convention and Australian Migrant Act 1958, “it is a human right to seek asylum by boat to Australia” (Amnesty International Australia, 2013: n.p) with the majority found to be fleeing from persecution, torture and violence.
Australia has the obligation to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia under a number of international treaties such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Asylum seekers and refugees, 2013). Although it may appear that the refugees feel that they don’t achieve anything in relation to the protest, they have achieved media coverage which may assist to have their case re-examined individually by government agencies or community organisations.
References Amnesty International Australia. (2013). Our campaign for refugees and asylum seekers. Retrieved from the Amnesty International Website: https://www.amnesty.org.au/campaigns/refugees/
Asylum seekers and refugees (2013). Retrieved from the Australian Human Rights Commission Website: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/publications/asylum-seekers-refugees-and-human-rights-snapshot
Commonwealth Secretariat. (2006). Commonwealth Manual on Human Rights Training. Lambert, C., & Pickering, S. (2001). Immigration Detention Centres. Human Rights and Criminology in Australia. 13(2), 219-223