Report for the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) – submitted January 30, 2012 – see http://bit.ly/unrefuge for more information
Originally Published in Right Now.
Right Now’s Asher Hirsch speaks to Mark Isaacs about his experiences working for the Salvation Army in the Nauru Offshore Processing Centre and about his new book, The Undesirables.
Right Now: When you landed in Nauru what were your first thoughts and feelings? Can you describe a little bit about what Nauru is like as a country?
Mark Isaacs: The first thing you notice about Nauru is that it is a really small country. There are about ten thousand people on it and when the plane comes into the land, the whole island is engulfed by the airplane. One of the asylum seekers thought he was landing on water.
It is extremely hot. We arrived just prior to the wet season and that took a while to get used to. The centre of the island is mined-out phosphate rock. in the centre of the mined-out phosphate rock is where the detention centre is, or at least the one that I worked at. It is a hot, barren landscape.
It is a very poor island. Around the edges you have these beautiful tropical beaches and palm trees, then you quickly realise dilapidated housing, deteriorated infrastructure, old and abandoned cars. There is no fresh food on the island and a high unemployment rate – there are a lot of people sitting around doing nothing. When Australia says, “we will give you a few billion dollars to hold asylum seekers”, it seems like an acceptable offer to a poor country like Nauru.
Going into the detention centre, what were you told by the Salvation Army about what you were meant to be doing there? Continue reading
The High Court of Australia is poised to hear arguments about whether it is legal for the Australian government to intercept, detain and remove asylum seekers on boats outside Australia’s territorial waters.
What are the legal questions before the High Court? What are the government’s international law obligations? What avenues are open to the High Court? What might this mean for the future of Australian asylum policy?
In this Q&A panel, four legal experts will consider these and other issues:
Professor Jane McAdam (UNSW), expert on international refugee law
Professor George Williams (UNSW), expert on constitutional law
Associate Professor Tim Stephens (Sydney University), expert on the law of the sea
Edward Santow (Public Interest Advocacy Centre), expert on administrative law and co-author of Island of Impunity? Investigation into international crimes in the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War
The panel will be chaired by Steven Glass, partner at Gilbert + Tobin. The Kaldor Centre is grateful to Gilbert + Tobin for kindly hosting the event.
“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).
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?”