RISE?: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees, condemns the passing of the Australian Liberal/National coalition government?s migration and maritime powers legislation amendment bill (resolving the asylum legacy caseload) 2014 against refugees arriving by boat, passed by the Senate yesterday.

Not only does it concern us that the bill gives the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison more powers than any other Australian minister in government, but we are also concerned about the excessive secrecy and non-transparency of these discretionary powers over one of the most oppressed and persecuted communities.

Even before the current bill was introduced, a number of refugee boats have gone missing or been pushed backed by the government and involuntary mass deportations to danger have occurred. ?The new legislative powers are an open invitation to Scott Morrison by the Australian Senate to treat asylum seekers coming by boats even more inhumanely. ?The xenophobic, anti-humanitarian legacy, of John Howard who said, ?We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come? is perfected in this bill.

Ramesh Fernandez, CEO and founder of RISE, ex-detainee and former Temporary protection visa (TPV) holder said:

?After I was released from indefinite, administrative detention, I was on TPVs for three years, constantly under surveillance, unable to do further study, not allowed to travel and see my family, and uncertain of my future. This was added trauma inflicted on my life and the lives of other asylum seekers by the government, and many of us have still not healed from this process yet.

When the TPV was ceased I was again required to go through the ordeal of another interview to apply for permanent residence. It felt like undergoing torture once again or I will call it the ?cycle of oppression?, forcing me to go back to square one, where I left off.

Now, I can see that even greater trauma and uncertainty will be inflicted on my community, with the current bill not just re-introducing TPVs but actually removing legal protection from deportation to danger?

There are 50 million displaced refugees around the world. ?Many are languishing without proper protection in interim camps. Australia?s discriminatory, human rights violating ?offshore? processing system for asylum seekers who arrive by boat adds tally to the interim camps and keeps refugees in isolation. ?Deterrence measures may lower the number of asylum seekers in Australia, but it is not a just and humanitarian solution for people trying to cross borders by boat, or any other form of transport, desperately seeking a place where they can be safe.

We urgently request the public to resist Australia?s xenophobic government policies by demanding greater transparency, fairness and humanity in the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees who are human beings seeking protection from persecution and harm – not ?cases? or ?caseloads? to be ?processed?.

To lobby for international action, please email your concerns?:

  1. UNHCR Genevahttp://www.unhcr.org/pages/4a324fcc6.html
  1. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: infoDesk@ohchr.org, nationalinstitutions@ohchr.org
  1. UN New Yorkhttp://www.un.org/en/contactus/

For our international supporters – please contact the Australian embassy