“Dear bird send my message. Send an image of my eyes – to Abbott – where tears are rolling like a river, send my heart full of sorrow, send my mind full of thoughts, send him images of why I came. Dear bird send my message. Send my emotions to Morrison who is enjoying my pain, who does not think that I am a human being like him, who thinks that I am just a number the waste of population.”
17 year old asylum seeker in detention.
In an effort to protect parliamentary sovereignty, the Australian legislature has increasingly made new laws in areas that were once covered by the common law. Indeed, almost all aspects of law are now regulated by legislation. Statutory interpretation has thus become an essential role of the courts in every aspect of the law. As Chief Justice Gleeson noted, applying legislation is now the largest part of the work of modern judges:
One of the changes making the work of modern judges different from that of their predecessors is that most of the law to be applied is now found in Acts of Parliament rather than judge-made principles of common law (in which I include equity).
By Anne Pedersen, Murdoch University and Lisa Hartley, Curtin University
According to a poll taken last December, 60% of those surveyed think the Australian government should “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers”. What’s behind this negative sentiment (otherwise known as prejudice) towards asylum seekers in Australian society?”
A domestic bill of rights is often upheld as a vital tool in protecting the rights of citizens. However, a bill of rights also plays an important role in protecting the rights of those seeking asylum. This essay will analyse how a domestic bill of rights protects the rights of asylum seekers in a comparative study between the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Through this analysis, it will be shown that a domestic bill of rights is vital to ensure the rights of all people, including asylum seekers, are upheld.
The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 was intended to protect those fleeing persecution. However, many countries have attempted to limit this protection by narrowly defining the definition of persecution in national legislation. Persecution is at the heart of the Refugees Convention, and as such a proper interpretation is key if countries are to honour their obligations. The Refugees Convention was always intended to be interpreted in light of international human rights law. Such an interpretation ensures that contracting states protect those facing many forms of persecution. Australian courts originally followed such an interpretation when defining the term persecution within the Convention. However, the Australian Government, under the Howard administration, feared that such an interpretation was too broad and sought to limit those who would be eligible for protection under Australian law. As such, section 91R was added to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) through the Migration Legislation Amendment Act (No 6) 2001 (Cth) as part of the Government’s Pacific Solution. Such an amendment limits the definition of persecution under the Refugees Convention to only actions that constitute a harsh interpretation of serious harm. Such a test intentionally narrows Australia’s interpretation of the Convention so as to limit the number of people who Australia will provide protection to. As such, this amendment puts Australia at odds with the original intent of the Refugees Convention, and thus against international laws on treaty interpretation.