Last week, the Refugee Council of Australia, Australia's peak body for refugee organisations, lost $140,000 in federal government funding, amounting to close to a quarter of the organisation's budget. According to the Minister for Immigration, the funding was removed despite the fact the money had been allocated in the Budget, because it was "not the Government's view that taxpayer funding should be there to support what is effectively an advocacy group".
In May 2014, the UK House of Lords voted through a new clause to the Immigration Bill to remove the restriction on making citizens stateless. This expands the Home Secretary’s existing ability to revoke the citizenship of those believed to pose a threat to the UK. The new plans mean that the citizenship of naturalized citizens may be revoked even if they have no alternative nationality to fall back on.
Independent MP for Denison Andrew Wilkie has introduced the Migration Amendment (Ending the Nation’s Shame) Bill 2014 into Parliament. In his Second Reading Speech on 26 May, Mr Wilkie stated that Australia cannot simply be a party to the Refugee Convention, but must also believe in it and demonstrate this belief in practice. The Bill reflects the fact that it is not illegal to seek asylum under international law, and seeks to ensure greater transparency and fairness in Australia’s asylum seeker policy.
Patrick van Berlo, a visiting Master student from Leiden University, writes on the Leiden Law Blog about the conditions for asylum seekers on Nauru and the Nauruan government's revocation of his visa, blocking him from conducting research there. Patrick writes "Having my visa revoked did not stop me from delving into the issue: if anything, it rather encouraged me to go to even greater lengths in order to assess the policies' rationales and effects."
The 2014-15 budget sees a greater emphasis on the deterrence, interception and removal of asylum seekers. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will progressively merge by July 2015, and this new Department of Immigration and Border Protection will include the Australian Border Force, to be responsible for operational border, compliance and detention functions.
On 4 December 2013, the government introduced the Migration Amendment (Regaining Control over Australia’s Protection Obligations) Bill 2013 which seeks to repeal the complementary protection provisions in the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).
Professor Jane McAdam today spoke at a UN Human Rights Council side event in Geneva on the need to protect people displaced by natural disasters. She explained why existing refugee and human rights law do not adequately cover people forced from their homes in the context of disasters and climate change, and suggested that States need to consider proactive steps that can enhance resilience and protection.
Dr Claire Higgins, Research Associate at the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, has received the Margaret George Award from the National Archives of Australia to fund her research into Australia's in-country programme in Latin America. The in-country programme operated discreetly during the 1980s, rescuing and resettling trade unionists and former political prisoners while relying on careful negotiation with local authorities.