Liberty Victoria concerned about Morrison Government being prepared to send refugees back to countries where they face a real risk of death, torture or persecution
In a recent Federal Court proceeding, Alex Hawke, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, told the Court that he and his Department are prepared to knowingly breach international non-refoulement obligations when removing a person from Australia.
Non-refoulement obligations apply in respect of people who the Australian government have assessed face a very real risk of being killed, tortured, persecuted, or subjected to the death penalty or other serious human rights abuses, in their country of return.
Non-refoulement obligations apply in international law to prevent the forced expulsion of people to places of harm. Australia is a signatory to the international laws that prohibit such acts of the state.
In the proceeding, the Federal Court noted that the lawyer for Alex Hawke “suggested that much had changed ... and that the Minister was now more than prepared to proceed on the basis that Australia would breach its non-refoulement obligations and return the appellant to Iraq, even though it had been accepted that he was likely to be harmed or killed there”.
This is a shocking and unprecedented development, indicating complete disregard by the Australian government for international laws and standards, and its moral obligation not to expel people to harm.
Liberty Victoria has significant concerns about this development for reasons including the following:
Liberty Victoria condemns this radical shift in policy. Not only is it morally and legally unjustifiable, but it may also cause irreparable harm to Australia’s international standing and reputation as a country that upholds and promotes human rights and the rule of law.
A government saying it is okay to send someone to a country where they know the person faces a real risk of being killed or tortured is morally reprehensible and deeply concerning. When Australia signed up to the Refugee Convention we promised to never do this.
However, it appears the Morrison Government is now trying to back out of this commitment, and in doing so it is saying it is okay to send people to a place where they are at risk of being killed or tortured.
For enquiries contact Liberty Victoria at email@example.com or phone 03 9670 6422
1. MNLR v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs  FCAFC 35 at paragraphs , .
2. MNLR v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs  FCAFC 35 at paragraph .