20 October, 2009

Further safeguard for survivors of trafficking – Complementary Protection

“Complementary protection is about helping vulnerable people – people at risk of the most serious forms of harm if returned to their home country”, Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

The Australian Government is attempting to pass a law that will provide further protection to the survivors of trafficking in Australia, to give them protection if being returned to the country they were trafficked from would place their safety in serious danger (such as those responsible for the trafficking targeting them for retribution). The proposed law is called the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009.

Australia is currently one of the only developed countries who do not have a complementary protection process in place. For example, Canada and the European Union already have systems of complementary protection in place.

Complementary protection refers to legal mechanisms for protecting people who fail to meet the definition of a refugee under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This would be the situation for most survivors of trafficking in Australia. STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia member organisations have had experience of a number of women trafficked to Australia where it was too dangerous for them to go home but they weren’t eligible for a refugee visa in Australia. Under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is someone who faces persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Under the current system people who do not meet the definition of a refugee, but whose lives or well-being would be in serious danger if returned to their country of origin, can be granted protection in Australia but only by a decision directly by the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship. This usually only happens at the last stage of the process of seeking protection, meaning that a person must go through a very long process to have their claim of protection actually considered.

Australia has clear obligations not to return a person seeking protection to a place where their lives or safety could be threatened (non-refoulement) through a number of the international treaties that Australia is signed on to such as the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention), the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Australia adheres to the Refugee Convention obligations of non-refoulement through the current protection visa process however the proposed Complementary Protection Bill ensures that Australia will fulfil the non-refoulement obligations of all of these international treaties.

The Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 is set to be debated in one of the next Parliamentary sittings. While the Greens and Senator Xenophon have publicly indicated support for the Bill, the Coalition has indicated that they will oppose the Bill. Senator Fielding has not yet publicly declared his position on the Bill. Unless Senator Fielding supports the Bill or a Coalition Senator votes against the position of their party, the Bill will not be passed and Australia will continue to return people seeking protection, including survivors of trafficking, to situations of danger or even death.

For the text of the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 go to:

Write a polite and respectful letters or e-mails to the following selected Senators (writing to the Senator in your state):

Senator Gary Humphries
Canberra Centre
148 Bunda Street
Salutation: Dear Senator Humphries

Senator Marise Payne
PO Box CC18
Parramatta, NSW, 2123
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Payne

Senator Sue Boyce
PO Box 143
Albion DC, Qld, 4010
Salutation: Dear Senator Boyce

Senator Mary Jo Fisher
Ground Floor, 75 Hindmarsh Square
Adelaide, SA, 5000
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Fisher

Senator Guy Barnett
Senator for Tasmania
33 George Street
Launceston Tas 7250
Salutation: Dear Senator Barnett

Senator Judith Troeth
Level 9, 601 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Troeth

Senator Steve Fielding
Family First
255 Blackburn Road
Mount Waverley Vic 3149
Contact Link:
Salutation: Dear Senator Fielding

Senator Michaelia Cash
Suite 8, Level 2 5 Tully Road,
East Perth, WA, 6004
Contact Link:
Dear Senator Cash

Points to make in your letter or e-mail (Please note that letters are more effective than e-mails, but sending an e-mail is much, much better than doing nothing):

· Request that they vote in support of the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009.

· Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world who currently do not provide complementary protection.

· Australia has been urged to implement a complementary protection process by domestic and international bodies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

· Implementing the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 will ensure that Australia upholds its non-refoulement obligations under the international conventions it is signed on to such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

· Voting for the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 would ensure that Australia has a stronger system to prevent the return of those seeking asylum, including some victims of human trafficking, to situations of danger or where they may be murdered or tortured.

No comments: