Asylum seeker rights

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Despite asylum seeker processing centres being set up on Nauru and Manus Island with Australian money and resources, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Gillian Triggs, has been advised by the Solicitor-General, the Federal Government’s top legal advisor, that she does not have the right to visit either island.

The advice given to Prof Triggs’ office states that her jurisdiction is only over people on Australian soil and because Nauru and Manus Island are not part of Australia, she cannot gain access to asylum seekers to address their complaints. Instead, she has to consider and act on asylum seeker complaints from Australia without first-hand knowledge.

This debacle has occurred just one month after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) visited, and released reports about both island processing centres, finding significant legal and operational inadequacies which were “deeply concerning”.

Read more from The Age.
Read more from the UNHCR.

Opinion: A government in shambles

The Federal Government placed all their eggs in one basket with the Malaysian swap deal. When it failed, due to being ruled unlawful in late 2011, the government took a year to react by re-opening Nauru and Manus Island to receive asylum seekers.

After reading the UNHCR report into both islands, the conditions sound suitable for short-term detention, but not years of detention. Asylum seekers have many rights and it is absurd that the Australian Human Rights Commissioner is not allowed to protect and improve conditions for individuals seeking asylum who are being processed in off-shore Australian detention centres. The Federal Government should be approaching the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru to grant Gillian Triggs permission to hear the complaints of asylum seekers in-person and to view the conditions for herself.

What seems to be the most concerning issue, for both the asylum seekers and the general public, is the indefinite timeframe being imposed on asylum seekers held on the islands and the time it takes for claims to be processed. I cannot fathom how it could take more than a few months to research and process the majority of asylum seeker claims. The Federal Government needs to review it’s current procedures and enforce a timeframe for processing every claim.

Should the Australian Human Rights Commissioner be granted access to Nauru and Manus Island to address the complaints of asylum seekers?

Comments to this thread will be heavily moderated. Please refrain from racist remarks and personal attacks.

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422 Comments

Total Comments: 422
  1. 0
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    The saddist thing about the asylum seekers who come by boat is the way they have been demonised into a huge problem, when of course they are a very small number in the scheme of things. The making of this cruel political football is more of an indictment on our nation and its politicians than anything any individual asylum seeker may do.

    It shows the heart of our nation and it is not in good shape.

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      Very strong detrimental Oz society implications and I agree 110%.

      Nevertheless, even 1 illegal immigrant is one illegal immigrant regardless of how they arrived in the country. Meditteranean countries have for a long time and are continuing at this moment to attempt to control illegal immigration. The USA has huge issues with illegal immigration. So, just 1 illegal immigrant is one too many.

      Therefore nobody wants to see Oz faced with an uncontrolled immigration issue as it adds to or even causes, not resolves, so much human misery and even deaths. That these past two governments have failed to cohesively work together to resolve illegal immigration via boats [or any means] is reprehensible, deplorable, condemnable and even criminal. Makes me ashamed to be an Australian.

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      Taskid, your bleeding heart overlooks far too much. Anyone who would not fight for his country isn’t fit to live in it – perhaps that is why they are coming here. They would rather have Aussies do it for them while they lap up the lifestyle that rightfully belongs to Australians. How many of them would enlist in the Australian defence forces if Oz were under attack?
      The economic refugees should be sent packing out of hand, and the others should be given white feathers and sent to join them. Orderly entry only!

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      aquaytrek, Thats why our civiised society has laws…without laws we go back to the Dark Ages….crusades and all of that..lol I agree as well with your commen ts and may miore would agree as well if not intimidated by so called gooy tooshoes etc….but things wil not change where this is concerned as already the pressure of huge numbers of people around the world in these countries alone will be like an avalchanche on a ski slop and I daresay some of will see this begin to unfold unfortunately….it is already there unfolding for all to see in reality..this was prophesied after the last war..by some europeans who had great foresight..just try and enjoy our lives and what we have now and not worry too much about other things…I do…now I never did though and spent horror nights in terror of stuff which never came to happen…x

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      Yes it really…I have spoken to many if them in restaurants in Shopping malls and they paint a very different picture or rather how they look at it all…They are generally family living people and quietly spoken and nothing like what we presume……Again as I commented earlier they don`t appear to have any agendas at all only a general moving on with their lives into our side of the world…I may sound cras and giveng up hope but I really felt that deepy…its like our Bible said that nations will join nations or words to that effect but it is the religious thingy that will decide how peaceable it will become…I heard some one giving them large amounts of money to follow this tren or……also many have very nice english accents ?

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      Precious,I whole heartedly agree with you however, please leave the Bible out of the forum. People do not have to have a faith to be compassionate and humanitarian but unlike I have never approach an asylum seeker and engaged in a dialogue, however, I do know people who have and they say the same as you
      ” … They are generally family living people and quietly spoken and nothing like what we presume…… …” The media (and some politicians ) demonise these innocent people for their own gain. In an unstable political country, the educated people are NOT encouraged to help govern the country. That is why they (the educated) flee. They flee or die. The poor and destitute can not afford the passage to safety and they languish in the camps. The educated (the wealthy) are a threat to the political regime so they need to be killed. These people are traumatised before they arrive here and I am sure as hell they don’t need the hostility and unfriendliness of a few bigoted Aussies. I read Pauline Hanson is thinking of sitting for Parliament again.

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      I read that in the UK these people have been on a payment of tywo hundred poounds a fortnight for about 3/4 years now and classed as un employable…they have developed so called mental problems, cannot understand our language or the learning of it…and over billions of pounds continually b eing drained from the UK government for them…what will be the answer I would love to hear of a solution……

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      I agree with you taskid. Asylum seekers have been demonised for far too long. Since, at least, the 1970’s, successive governments have failed to find a workable solution that does not involve long periods of encarceration for asylum seekers either here or off-shore, and faster processing times. Our politicians seem to be stuck on one of two solutions – turn back the boats or off-shore processing. It is a joke really. A solution is long overdue, 40+ years and counting…

  2. 0
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    Agree with some of what you say Taskid, but there are other concerns re allowing the boat people into Australia. One of which is the potential health risks they may present, coming from places without the standards and immunisations here.

    The other is the fact, a lot of these people are not true refugees. How would such poverty stricken people come up with the thousands of dollars needed for an illegal attempt to enter Australia? Why throw passports overboard? (and other things).

    I’m sorry, but I believe take these people off the boats, burn the boats and fly them on the first plane back to where they came from. After some time maybe the attempts might lessen as the boats are less in numbers.

    I’m not a hard-ass, so don’t think for a minute I am, but if they have the thousands of dollars needed to enter Australia illegally, why not try to enter legally, the hard way like lots of others. If they are knocked back, then they need to sort out why and if there is a solution, do it the hard way.

    If their lives are so dire where they come from, then surely even Nauru and Manus would be blessed relief. They need to stop whinging, do their time til its all sorted out our way, not make demands.

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      We spent large sums on refugees to the detriment of our own long suffering taxpayer citizens. The huge sums spent on refugees could fix some of our problems with aged care, education and health.

      Get the refugees off the gravy train. Require them to work and give them a loan (HECS style) to set themselves up in Australia. If they can’t start paying back the loan in a couple of years then they are not really making a commitment to be part of Australia. Send them back from where they came! Any refugee with the money to buy a berth on a boat should be able (and willing) to make a financial contribution to their living costs.

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      I agree with Taskid and Reppie, the TRUE Refugees are thankful for what they have been given or get, it is the ILLEGAL’S who cause so much mayhem, if the do gooders are so concerned with the way things are done (apart from sending the ILLEGALS back to where they came from) let them have them live with them in their homes and take full responsability for them

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      the ALP offered some compensation of $300 or something if you took them in but that has also apparently failed.

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    We forget that all Governments react to what the public says. The public responses to the plight of the asylum seekers was so negative its not surprising our Government react so badly & so slowly to these poor people. Until we all show the Gov we want asylum seekers treated better, they will never do the right thing. I cant see why these people are not released into the Community to work and make new lives, happy & grateful to Australia for a new start.

    People tell me this would create a risk of terrorists entering our country. Well, we have a small business & had 14 Afghani clients. They had been in detention for years. When they were released, they were given huge bills from the Government to cover the costs of their detention. So by the time they sent money back to their families & paid some to the Gov they were really struggling to get on their feet. Were they bitter ? Yes they were ? Did they like Australia & Australians ? No. How would you feel escaping from terrorism, being detained for years & having to pay for it. Will they make happy citizens ? What do you think ?

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      Okay, is the answer is to send them home or to release them into the community when they arrive and require them to work?

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      children sewing their lips together because they have a mental illness. Well, I suppose Australia has given them something to add to the trauma from their home land. The parents can afford to pay the fare here because they are NOT uneducated peasants. Sure there may be some bad asylum seekers, but would you risk your life and the lives of your family to get away from the trauma of your home land if it was not the only solution?? This racism being shown is worse than when we had the White Australia policy. Maybe if we showed a little compassion we would see what wonderful things (food for example) they can bring to our culture. We are a rich country so let’s give to those less fortunate.

  4. 0
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    The legal quagmire that these past governments have become involved in is an absolute farce. Our taxes pay for the best minds in this country and internationally to make decisions that are correct. The ALP have been made to look like absolute fools in their mismanagement of the issue. I and many others are absolutely bewildered as to why this should be the case. Plus sadly there is no end in sight until the ALP are dismissed from office. The NLP seem to be able to make decisive decisions that stand legal scrutiny as they have done in the past.

    • 0
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      aqua, if this was treated as a humanity problem and not ‘illegal entry’ political beat-up, we, the voting public, would not be manipulated into the ‘fear’ campaign of hate. The politicians (especially the current LNP) beat up fear and greed … ‘they’ are getting more than I am. I really am ashamed/bewildered that supposedly educated people can not see common sense.

  5. 0
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    Reppie I guess from our situation of comfort and security it is easy to sit in judgement. I cannot even imagine some of the situations from which these people have fled. Should we worry about health, money etc or should we open our hearts to these who through no fault of their find their nations torn apart. I think the measure of a nation is the depth of compassion it has for the vulnerable on our planet.

    • 0
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      Q – Opinion: A government in shambles – A = ?

    • 0
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      Did anyone see the programme on SBS called ‘Go back to where you came from”. It was certainly an eye opener for the 6 Aussies involved in the ‘experiment, and I’m sure, for the viewing public. All these people who classify as refugees didn’t have ‘two pennies to rub together’, so how are these others turning up with thousands of dollars for a dodgy boat trip. What are these running from?? Salaries in these Asian countries are a pittance ,if you have a job,and cost of living so low. It’s like a checkout chic trying to save $20.000 for a boat trip. How long would that take?

  6. 0
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    It’s Ok for our soldiers to live in tents in Aghanistan fighting for the people who would rather flee than sort out their own country. It seems that hotels and motels are the appropriate accommodation for them whlie they try to change our society into the one they left.

    • 0
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      It is also OK seemingly for our soldiers to be killed by the very people these so nice boat people, they are there to help.

      To the point that within their own camp area they are herded into a small area they can defend themselves with armed guards so can even get some much needed sleep.

  7. 0
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    Of course the commissioner has no rights to visit, although both islands are Australian protectorates, the have their own legal system and rights, it would be like saying ok we have sunk thousands of dollars into an overseas country now we want to take over not gunna happen, besides the whole system is a nightmare, besides the point that some 20% are actual fugitives while the rest are trying to jump start the system to get into Australia through the backdoor, weather or not they are entitled to get here in the first place. Personally I am sick to death of the lies and stupidity of OUR pollies, who use this situation as and for their own agenda’s, the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s & 50’s pollies were guilty of making huge mistakes, but at least they tried to better the lot of the average Aussie, with many crossing the floor to support a good idea, the current pollies are restricted to PARTY politics which govern everything, cross the floor to many times or refuse to support the party in any way and you are out in the cold, what we need is a new party, governed by basic honest ideals, nor agenda based politics aimed at the governing minority’s, but of we can’t get two pollies to agree which toilet to use, let alone govern a country as diverse as we are

    • 0
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      Manus Island and Nauru are not Australian protectorates . Nauru is a nation state and Manus Island is part of PNG . 20% are actual fugitives while the rest are trying to get in the backdoor , what does that mean or what are you trying to say ? Can I assume you are saying 80% are economic immigrants like the 34,000 a year we get from NZ ? By fugitives you mean refugees or fugitives from justice or persecution in their native land . 90% of asylum seekers are found to be genuine in their claims . I,m only guessing at what you meant .

    • 0
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      The assessment process leaves a lot to be desired. The applicants get legal representation at taxpayer expense. The “defending” solicitors are usually junior officers of the Solicitor General’s office with little support. The courts give the benefit of the doubt to the applicants who have lost their papers. The recent parliamentary mission to Sri Lanka returned with a strong view that Sri Lankan asylum seekers were economic refugees seeking an easy path to a new life. Genuine asylum seekers need only take a 30km trek to India, who accepts them. The hazardous trip to Australia is paid for by the asylum seekers who don’t appear to have difficulty in paying for an air fare. They take the boat because they have difficulty getting a visa or don’t wish to take their turn.

  8. 0
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    Supernan, I am sure most of us would love a world where everyone is free to come and go whenever and wherever they like, but …

    I would hate one of my family members to end up with a disease which is long eliminated from this country through immunisation, and our good standards, in comparison to a lot of the world. We also have freedom and free speech which everybody has the right to.

    As for releasing these people into the community without checking out who they are and where they are from, giving jobs ! What about the thousands of Australians currently unemployed, and the numbers grow daily with big companies either going overseas or closing down completely. Give our own citizens jobs first. Until we have almost full employment here, cut right back on any immigrants, unless on compassionate grounds maybe for a while eh? I know far too many people who have lost their homes when their jobs went, trying to raise their kids and look for work is darn near impossible, especially for single parents.

    Maybe we need to just stop being the country which puts up with all this nonsense, and become a little less considerate to all incoming permanents, (or would be’s).

    Even on Manus and Nauru they are fed, clothed, paid, and provided with all they need until their applications are sorted out. Yes it takes time, but if life is so bad where they came from, they should be prepared, even happy to take this time and this process in their stride.

    • 0
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      Well said – charity begins at home 1st – then if there is any left over it can be dished out to whoever needs it the most next. Charity cannot be delivered as if there is a forever filling up bucket. Even in Oz hospitals its called triage – categorizing into 3 levels of a) life threatening b) not life threatening c) pls wait patiently for assistance. That is what a compassionate humane society has – rules for peaceful living.

      The boat asylum seekers are playing on and manipulating the Oz society capabilities to supply compassion and use it to their own advantages because where they come from they have little or no compassion built into their respective societies. While they are allowed to keep coming in an uncontrolled fashion then this countries compassionate capacities will be and are being pushed to the limit. It is not limitless despite the urge to be so.

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      Hundreds of murders???? Where is your proof, comeon stop throwing cheap shots.

    • 0
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      I am not ‘throwing cheap shots’ and I strongly object to being accused of that. How many have drowned or just disappeared since the ALP came into office ? You do the precise head count and report back on here – to help you start just last month apparently 100 thereabouts drowned of Sri Lanka; as was reported by the Sri Lankan government.

    • 0
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      Reppie once again – at last someone with common sense and a nice way of expressing it – even the bleeding hearts and lefties cant fault that delivery.

    • 0
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      457 visa jobs being used for work in Victoria where there are plenty of tradesmen out of work . A rort being used when 457 applications are to be used to fill a skills shortage not by hire labour firms which is what is happening .
      aquatrek How many people drowned in Howards time . I know of one boat going down with 300 dead . The 100 you mention were Burmese and the survivors were picked up by Sri Lankans and starvation was the cause of death , not enough supplies .

  9. 0
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    lasaboy Is it about our politicians or is it about we Australians. We presume they represent out views. Liberals want harsher treatment, Government want to gain political points, but show compassion, Greens bleat on about rights, but have no responsibility. Our government will reflect us. We cannot shift the blame. We have allowed them, even encouraged them in some cases to turn the plight of these people into a political football. Let us cop it sweet, we as a nation have failed.

  10. 0
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    I agree with Taskid. I feel sorry for the asylum seekers who arrive by boat. I feel sorrier for the ones who drown on the way. At least the asylum seekers rotting away in Asian and African refugee camps are not likely to drown. So if the queue jumper asylum seekers want to avoid drowning, living in horrid tents, subjecting themselves to internet connection, mobile phones, medical and dental services that our taxpayers fund, they should go to the African or Asian refugee centres.
    More positively, the Afghani young men should have stayed home, joined their national army and have developed the backbone to defend their country instead of taking the cowards’ way out and desert their homeland, leaving it and their fellow Afghanis to the tender mercies of the Taliban fanatics.
    Imagine what your response would be, if in 1941, a boat load of military age Pommies washed up at Cottesloe Beach and begged for asylum because they feared that they would be killed by the bombs the Germans were dropping on their country.
    Thank you K Rudd. As a consequence of your ill-considered do-gooder impulses and subsequent ill-considered knee jerk responses that you and your erstwhile deputy Gillard have put in place to deal with the GFC and the ban on livestock export, you will have left Australia worse off that it was when you came into office.

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