Monday, February 10, 2014

Challenging the "Pacific solution" II

Since 2012, refugees seeking asylum in Australia have instead been dumped on Nauru and Papua New Guinea in appalling and inhumane conditions. The refugees are kept as prisoners, detained at the request of Australia. The constitutionality of this is already being challenged in Papua New Guinea, and now it is being challenged in Nauru as well:

Australia's most respected human rights lawyers have launched a constitutional challenge in Nauru to have 10 detained asylum seekers released from its detention centre, claiming it is unlawful, inhumane and degrading.

In documents obtained by Fairfax Media, four prominent lawyers - George Newhouse, Julian Burnside, David Hicks' lawyer Dan Mori and Jay Williams - allege the detainees have been held unlawfully and in ''indefinite detention'' since September 2012, without access to lawyers or a fair hearing, which they say is unconstitutional.

Mr Burnside said the detainees - men from Iran and Sri Lanka - had been held for an unreasonable amount of time, according to rules set by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees that stipulates it should take four to six months to process a refugee claim.

The lawyers argue that lengthy detention without asylum claims being processed is arbitrary and therefore unlawful under Nauru's constitution.

Unfortunately, this is Nauru. While the refugees may have a strong legal case, the government will simply deport the lawyers, sack the judges, and ignore any court orders to keep the Australian blood money flowing (and accuse any international critics of bullying and racism to shut them up). And all with the tacit support of Australia, which seems happy to turn one of its neighbours into a dictatorship if it helps them appear to be "tough on refugees".