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AMAN’s Stand Against the Migration Amendment Bill 2024

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let them stay

The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) has been a relentless advocate for justice, equality, and human rights since its inception. In a recent submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, AMAN has raised significant concerns about the proposed Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024. This Bill, if enacted, will have far-reaching consequences for many communities across Australia, potentially infringing upon fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Unchecked Ministerial Powers and Their Implications

The Migration Amendment Bill 2024 seeks to grant the Minister for Immigration unprecedented discretionary powers. These powers include compelling individuals to take any action necessary for their removal from Australia under the threat of severe penalties, including up to five years of imprisonment for non-compliance​​. This level of authority, coupled with the potential to impose travel bans reminiscent of those seen in the Trump administration, poses significant risks to the fairness and transparency of the immigration process.

Criminalising Survival and Family Decisions

One of the most alarming aspects of the Bill is how it effectively criminalises survival. Individuals fleeing persecution, torture, and imminent danger are forced to choose between returning to life-threatening situations or facing detention in Australian prisons for non-compliance with removal orders. This is not only inhumane but also places an undue burden on families, forcing parents to make impossible decisions regarding their children’s safety and future​​.

Impact on Community Trust and Safety

The Bill’s broad discretionary powers and severe penalties are likely to create a chilling effect across various communities. Many will live in fear of these unchecked powers being used against them, even those who have already been granted protection or are seeking to travel to Australia. This fear undermines trust in the government and erodes the sense of security and belonging that is essential for community cohesion​​.

A Step Towards Undemocratic Governance

AMAN views this Bill as a troubling indicator of a shift towards undemocratic governance. The haste with which this legislation has been introduced, following the High Court’s ruling in NZYQ, suggests a reactionary and authoritarian approach to lawmaking. This approach risks bypassing established judicial processes and undermining the rule of law, principles that are fundamental to a democratic society​​.

AMAN’s Recommendations

In its submission, AMAN has made several key recommendations:

  1. Abandon the Bill: Focus on creating durable mechanisms to review immigration detention and release people safely into the community.
  2. Support Refugees: Grant recognized refugees the opportunity to settle in Australia, regardless of their mode of arrival.
  3. End Offshore Processing: Terminate offshore processing and detention policies, and close the ‘Regional Processing Centre’ in Nauru.
  4. Provide Rights and Entitlements: Ensure that bridging visas allow refugees and asylum seekers to live in the community with full rights and entitlements​​.

Upholding Human Rights Frameworks

AMAN’s submission underscores Australia’s obligations under international human rights frameworks, including the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These frameworks prohibit arbitrary detention and ensure the protection of refugees and asylum seekers. The proposed Bill, however, appears to contravene these obligations, highlighting the need for a more humane and legally sound approach to immigration policy​​.

The Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 represents a significant step backward for human rights in Australia. By granting excessive powers to the Minister for Immigration and criminalising the survival of vulnerable individuals, the Bill threatens to undermine the principles of justice, equality, and democracy. AMAN’s detailed submission to the Senate Standing Committees calls for a rejection of the Bill and a recommitment to humane and equitable immigration policies.