Rushed Migration Amendment Bill creates spectre of Trump's "Muslim Ban" policy

Amnesty International Australia has grave concerns with the introduction of the Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024, (the Bill), as it risks serious non-compliance with Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention as well as other international instruments.

A number of the elements of the Bill risk putting Australia in breach of its international obligations, including; the criminalisation of non-cooperation with removal, punishable with up to 5 years’ imprisonment with a mandatory sentence of 12 months; the ability of the Minister to arbitrarily reverse a person’s protection finding; and the broad prohibition on any type of visa applications from almost all nationals of certain countries.

The broad prohibition on nationals from certain countries, seriously undermines Australia’s long held “non-discriminatory” immigration policy.

“Furthermore, without legal pathways, those who have to flee persecution from these countries, will have little alternative but to resort to “irregular” pathways in order to reach safety.”

“Sadly this Bill raises the spectre of former US President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” policy, targeting a select group of countries in clear violation of Australia’s international human rights obligations given the undeniable discrimination based on race, religion, and national origin, as well as the potential devastating impacts of family separation,” said Amnesty International’s Refugee Adviser Dr Graham Thom.

“The discretionary power for the Minister to reverse a protection finding, which could compel an asylum seeker to return home under the threat of a criminal penalty, seriously risks Australia’s obligations not to refoule someone to a country where they face human rights abuses.”

“Let’s not forget Afghans from minority groups were still having their protection claims rejected in the weeks leading up to the return of the Taliban, on the clearly absurd basis it was safe for them to return to Kabul. Should these Afghans now face 5 years in prison for refusing to return?”

Amnesty International calls on the government to withdraw this clearly discriminatory and flawed legislation.