Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Legal Challenge to Detention on Manus

By Emma Larking

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

A protest by asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie, Sydney Morning Herald

A protest by asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie, Sydney Morning Herald

Regarding Rights is following a legal challenge to the Manus Island Asylum Seeker Detention Centre with interest (see the report in yesterday’s Australian). The challenge was lodged last month by PNG opposition leader Belden Namah, who claims the Detention Centre, and the Agreement with Australia to establish and run the Centre, breaches the PNG Constitution. Namah’s lawyers, along with commentators in the Australian media, suggest the challenge has strong prospects of success given the PNG constitution provides a protection of individual liberty which is not limited to citizens of the country. I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but according to my reading of the constitution, the situation is somewhat more complicated.

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Realism and Refugees

By Emma Larking

Centre for International Governance and Justice,

Australian National University

Refugees at the Nauru detention centre protest with signs and chants of freedom. Photo: Angela Wylie, National Times.com.au

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen recently defended the warehousing of people on Nauru and Manus Island by saying the government has an ‘overriding moral and humanitarian obligation’ to stop asylum seekers drowning at sea [SBS.com.au].  ‘Stopping the boats’, and thereby the deaths of people at sea, is now said to be the Labor government’s primary policy goal in the refugee arena [Sydney Morning Herald].  There is a very straightforward means of preventing the deaths of asylum seekers at sea without spending billions [1] to incarcerate them off-shore. Australia could abandon its current strategy of impounding or destroying asylum boats on arrival, and it could stop prosecuting boat crews. If it did so, the people who make arrangements for asylum seekers to travel by sea to Australia would be prepared to provide seaworthy craft, and enough people competent to crew them safely. Continue reading