Airport officials without relevant expertise are making life-or-death decisions about people seeking asylum in Australia, according to a policy brief from UNSW’s Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law that recommends reform. 

Travellers who claim refugee status at Australian airports can be turned away and sent back to countries where they may be at risk of serious harm, after being interviewed behind closed doors and without access to lawyers, says the policy brief written by Regina Jefferies (Kaldor Centre), Daniel Ghezelbash (Macquarie Law School), and Asher Hirsch (Refugee Council of Australia/Monash University).

This extraordinary entry-screening process has resulted in refugees being hand-cuffed and detained, simply for raising a protection claim in the airport. Even worse, some have been immediately returned to the country where they fear harm, without a robust assessment of their claim or access to any review of the decision.

The Kaldor Centre policy brief, ‘Assessing Protection Claims at Airports: Developing procedures to meet international and domestic obligations’, steps through Australia’s current approach, which prioritises visa cancellation, mandatory detention and removal, rather than protection needs. The authors outline reforms necessary to bring Australia’s policies in line with principles of procedural fairness and international refugee and human rights law protections.

Read the full policy brief, 'Assessing Protection Claims at Airports: Developing procedures to meet international and domestic obligations’.

Watch the 5-minute video, ‘Australia’s airport asylum process explained’. 

The Kaldor Centre plays a vital role in developing legal, sustainable and humane solutions for displaced people around the world.