Exile on Main Street – Dutton denies refugee’s civil and political rights

Blockade on Main Street Kangaroo Point 11 June 2020

Immigration Minister Dutton has tried to take away refugee rights to free speech. For weeks refugees have put up their protest signs at the detention centre on Main Street in Kangaroo Point Brisbane. Dutton has told security organisation, Serco, to remove the detainees particularly those who have organised the placards and who have spoken to the media.

In response, refugee activists have set up a blockade on Main street Kangaroo Point Brisbane to prevent the refugees from being evacuated. There is an occupation on site with people on rosters. Calls have been made for assistance by organisers.

There was a mass action on Saturday afternoon 13th June 2020 at Main Street and Walmsley streets, Kangaroo Point. where over 500 people attended despite fines retribution and abuse from state and federal authorities. The protests have put Immigration Minister Dutton on notice.

In the early hours a call was put out for Labor for Refugees to pressure the ALP state government not to arrest peaceful protestors trying to prevent the eviction of the refugees from the Main Street Hotel-cum-detention-centre.

7 years too long, free the refugees

In violation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Immigration Minister Dutton is instructing SERCO to target refugees who have spoken out in the media. Here is one such interview on community radio 4ZZZ –

Refugee activists rebuke Morrison when he was Immigration Minister

SERCO evicting refugees from Main Street Hotel in Brisbane
Jonathan Sri, Greens Councillor for the Gabba ward where the refugees are being detained, is begging the Qld labor government no to lock up activists peacefully protesting the removal of the refugees who have spoken out.

Meanwhile in NSW the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) rally planned for this saturday has been banned by the Supreme Court and activists threatened with arrest if they turn up. RAC organisers says that they will proceed with the peaceful protest and observe social distancing:

Organisers of weekend refugee rights rally in Sydney are vowing to go ahead with the gathering despite a Supreme Court ruling finding it should be prohibited.https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/protest-ban/12347700

Ian Curr
Paradigm Shift
4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at Noon

2 thoughts on “Exile on Main Street – Dutton denies refugee’s civil and political rights

  1. Government Minister ignores 'rule of law' when it suits him says:

    Peter Dutton’s confidence in ignoring the judiciary mocks Australia’s system of government – Alison Battisson

    Our client, an Iranian man, was found to be owed protection. But Dutton and other ministers intentionally opted not to comply with the law.
    Despite the first generations of foreign settlers arriving by boat, Australia has a fractious relationship with refugees who cross our sea borders.

    Elections have been fought (and won) on a platform of border protection, with politicians from both major parties spruiking variations of former prime minister John Howard’s 2001 pitch, “We will defend our borders and we’ll decide who comes to this country.” The problem with this statement is that, by signing the refugee convention, Australia has already decided who comes to this country – the most vulnerable and needy, regardless of the mode of arrival. Using military rhetoric (“defend”) against refugees raises serious questions as to whether Australia is abiding by the spirit and purpose of the refugee convention.

    The Gillard Labor government’s “no advantage principle” of 2012 tapped into the unfounded belief that there is an orderly queue that people fleeing persecution should be joining. Tell this to an Hazara woman who must leave from the south or east of Afghanistan; her government grants no formal documentation to Hazara and Australia is the first country she’ll reach that is a party to the refugee convention.
    Judge says Peter Dutton could be found in contempt if he defies orders in immigration case
    Read more

    Our politicians know this, but almost all press on with increasingly punitive rhetoric to deter people who are not able to flee by plane with a passport and visa. And worryingly, our politicians are increasingly turning against plane arrivals, including those with valid visas.

    The Border Force Act of 2015 put Peter Dutton’s stamp on immigration politics and he wasted no time in building a paramilitary organisation, “hardening” detention, and fighting every case where offshore detainees, including children, required urgent medical care. The situation in onshore detention is just as punitive.

    We saw this again last week when federal court Justice Geoffrey Flick found that ministers Dutton, Alan Tudge and Jason Wood had “intentionally opted not to comply with the law” when refusing to make a decision on granting a safe haven visa to an Iranian man, our client, who had already been found to be owed protection.

    The ministers’ determination to apply section 501 of the Migration Act (designed to deport non-citizens who have been sentenced to more than 12 months’ jail) in his case is troubling. As Justice Flick and Justice Steven Rares before him pointed out, section 501 is simply not relevant to determining a temporary protection claim or cancelling a temporary protection visa. To claim that it is ignores the current state of the law.

    Justice Flick has ordered Dutton to make a decision on our client by 4pm on 26 June or risk being in contempt of court.

    Ahead of that, it’s worth considering how the minister reached a point where he would disregard a federal court judgment, claiming it is “plainly wrong” and refusing to make a decision.

    Keen observers know that Dutton has form in this respect, most emphatically when it comes to people who arrived by boat. Unlike those arriving by air, they cannot apply for permanent protection and are much more likely to be detained while waiting for judicial decisions and visa processing delays that can drag on for years.

    This mindset is reflected in the so-called “fast track” process, which was introduced just before Dutton became immigration minister in December 2014. It was designed to push through asylum claims of 30,000 boat arrivals (“the legacy caseload”) whose claims had been put on hold and work rights denied under Labor’s “no advantage” policy. Instead of speeding up refugees’ status determination process, the fast-track process has become a fast track to rejection, and then to lengthy court battles.

    Under fast track, asylum seekers were denied the right to apply for permanent protection and the administrative appeals tribunal was replaced by an opaque process of desk-based review by a new government body, the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA). There is no right to an oral hearing before the IAA.

    Under Dutton, immigration lawyers have also faced an uphill battle in fighting unfair refusals and unreasonable delays.

    In December 2019, the high court heard its first fast-track applicant (CNY17), and declared that the IAA review of his protection claim had been “infected by apprehended bias” because of what Justice James Edelman called “irrelevant and prejudicial material involving prejudicial opinion, innuendo and tacit suggestion” shared by Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs.

    This issue of bias is highly relevant to Australia’s lopsided assessment of refugees, where the mere fact of arriving by boat has destroyed the lives of people like our client and more than 500 others, many of whom are entering their eighth year in detention.

    Dutton’s confidence in ignoring the judiciary makes a mockery of Australia’s system of government, which rests on the separation of powers enshrined in our constitution, between the judiciary, executive and legislature. Unless each respects the role of the other, the very foundations of our democracy are at risk.

    Alison Battisson is the director principal of Human Rights for All and the instructing solicitor in the case of AFX17 v minister for home affairs.

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