The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) joins with other refugee supporters in calling on the federal government to abandon three pieces of proposed legislation before parliament.
As the world watches in horror as the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Afghanistan, the Australian government is being asked to demonstrate more compassion not less. These Bills seem at odds with current community expectations.
The Bills are an attempt to revive previously discredited measures and impose an even harsher and inequitable regime on refugees and asylum-seekers. The Bills have nothing to do with good governance and are set to drive people already in mental distress even further into despair.
As the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has rightly said: “The suite of Bills targets refugees, people seeking asylum and other migrants who are in immigration detention or facing visa cancellation or refusal.
“If passed, these Bills would cause more people to be held in indefinite detention, potentially for the rest of their lives, or to be deported to countries where they face serious harm or have little connection to, with many also facing permanent separation from their Australian spouses and children.”
The three Bills are:
- The Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention) Bill 2020 – which will, if passed, allow the Minister to prevent refugees and people seeking asylum from having everyday items, such as mobile phones, while in detention.
- The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019 – which will introduce arbitrary and unreasonably low thresholds for the Minster to revoke or refuse visas for people based on the maximum possible sentence they could receive, rather than the sentence they actually received.
- The Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020 – which will allow the Minister to use secret information to revoke the visas of refugees and people seeking asylum.
RAC (Vic) believes that the current suite of laws governing refugees and asylum-seekers is already draconian and that these Bills represent another severe attack on human rights.
In particular, RAC acknowledges the enormous part that access to a mobile phone plays for those in detention – to contact friends, family and lawyers, and to monitor and record potential breaches of their rights by the detention system.
At a time when the government should be focused on major issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the dangers posed by global warming, and poverty, introducing these new Bills designed to harm some of the most vulnerable in our society is petty, cruel and capricious.
RAC calls on the ALP, Greens and cross-bench MPs and senators to oppose these new Bills with the utmost vigour.
We pledge to campaign against them with all the COVID-safe measures at our disposal.