Law Council on Asylum Seekers
7 July 2010 at 3:36 pm
Asylum seeker policies announced by both the Government and the Opposition fall well short of expectations about fair process and access to justice for asylum seekers, according to the Law Council of Australia.
Law Council President Glenn Ferguson says Australian’s sense of basic decency means treating people fairly and being part of the global response to refugees, and he urges political leaders to adhere to these Australian values.
The Law Council welcomed the Government’s lifting of the suspension of processing of claims by Sri Lankan asylum seekers and its commitment to reviewing the suspension of Afghan claims.
Ferguson says treating people fairly means considering the situation of each person on a case-by-case basis and the lifting of the suspension is a step in the right direction.
The Law Council has previously raised concerns about offshore processing and will be seeking further details of the new offshore processing initiatives in East Timor announced by the Prime Minister.
Ferguson says playing a part in the international refugee response requires the Government to be fair and reasonable in its approach to asylum seekers – offshore processing leaves vulnerable people with no guarantees that their basic legal rights will be protected.
The Law Council says it is also concerned over announcements made by the Opposition which raise significant issues about the fairness of its proposed treatment of asylum seekers.
It says the Opposition policy proposes considerable expansion of ministerial discretion.
Ferguson says the Law Council is also troubled by the proposal relating to the presumption against granting refugee status to applicants who have deliberately discarded their identity documentation – this fails to take into account people’s individual circumstances.
The Law Council says it is keen to ensure the adequacy of access to legal services under both the Government’s and the Opposition’s policy platforms.
The Law Council has also asked the Gillard Government to detail what legal services it is providing to Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers.