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Ken Hodge [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Is Australia any closer to returning failed asylum seekers to Iran?

On 18 April 2015, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, travelled to Iran to discuss the involuntary return of Iranian nationals who have unsuccessfully sought asylum in Australia. Though her visit was touted as being significant because she was the first Australian Minister to visit Iran in 12 years, it appears on the issue of returnees, her visit did no more than pave the way for further discussions on the issue—and at a lower level.  However, discussions between the two nations have been occurring for some time at a senior level, including a visit to Iran by Australia’s Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues under the previous Government. While Minister Bisho... Read more...

Ken Hodge [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

High Court validates maritime interception powers but watch this space!

On the 28 January 2015, the High Court delivered its much anticipated judgment on the scope and extent of Australia’s maritime interception powers. The Court held, by a majority (4:3) that the detention of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker intercepted en route to Australia with another 156 passengers was lawful under the Maritime Powers Act 2013 (the MPA). In doing so, their Honours also confirmed that the asylum seekers were not entitled to be consulted as to the desirability or otherwise of the destination to which they were to be taken (in this case India) and the Government was not required to have secured an agreement in advance with the country to which they were likely to be taken. In ... Read more...


Developments in refugee law and policy: 2014 in review

On a global level, 2014 may well be remembered as the year the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people exceeded 50 million people for the first time in the post-World War II era. However, in Australia 2014 will most likely be remembered as the year the boats stopped. That is not to say that boats carrying asylum seekers stopped attempting to reach Australia—rather, there were considerably fewer attempts made and those that did, were all (except one) redirected elsewhere. The Government’s contentious decision in June to return a boat carrying 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to India resulted in a High Court challenge (yet to be finalised), significant amen... Read more...

High Court strikes down Minister's decision to cap permanent visas for refugees

On 20 June 2014 the High Court unanimously upheld separate challenges by two asylum seekers who questioned the ability of the Minister to limit or cap the number of protection visas that can be granted. On 4 March 2014 Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, made a determination limiting the number of permanent protection visas that could be granted during the 2013/14 financial year. The limit of 2773 was reached only three weeks after the cap had been set. The principle question before the Court was whether section 85 of the Migration Act 1958 (the Act), which enables the number of visas to be granted in a financial year to be capped, was capable of applying to protection visas when the Act s... Read more...

Asylum levels and trends in industrialised countries 2013

On 21 March 2014 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released Asylum levels and trends in industrialised countries 2013. The report provides data on asylum claims lodged in 44 industrialized countries (38 European countries plus the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia), and reveals a number of interesting trends. Read more...

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