Asylum seekers from Sri Lanka risk being returned to potentially harmful situations under the government’s enhanced screening process, the Australian Human Rights Commission says.
It’s also warning that proposed changes to the refugee determination process to reduce avenues for appeal could see refugees return to danger.
Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs says the new government should ensure that all asylum seekers and refugees are treated humanely, regardless of how they reached Australia.
She says the commission’s latest report reveals a significant gap between Australia’s obligations under international law and its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
“Australia maintains one of the most restrictive immigration detention systems in the world,” Professor Triggs said.
“It is mandatory, not time limited, and people are not able to challenge the need for their detention in a court of law.”
The “snapshot” report says there were 6579 people in closed immigration detention facilities in Australia, including 1428 children, at September 5.
There were 52 refugees in indefinite detention as a result of adverse security assessments as of August 6.
An increase in the arrival of Sri Lankans last year prompted the former Labor government to implement “enhanced screening” processes, which have resulted in the speedy return of more than 1000 people to Sri Lanka.
The coalition government says it will apply that process even more rigorously.
“The commission is concerned that the enhanced screening process may not contain sufficient safeguards to protect people from being removed to a country where they face a real risk of significant harm,” it said.
© 2013 AAPS