UNICEF Australia has joined an Australian coalition of human rights organisations and experts calling for the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 not to pass.
With the Human Rights Law Centre, UNICEF Australia has said the Bill attempts to removes Australia’s international obligations; reduce the powers of our courts to uphold human rights; and, give extensive discretionary control to the Minister for Immigration.
UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Officer Norman Gillespie said among the risks in the Bill was authorisation to lock babies born in Australia in mandatory detention on Nauru.
“The Bill put forward by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison seeks to classify children born in Australia as ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ if one of their parents is labelled such, leaving those children subject to mandatory detention and transfer to Nauru,” Dr Gillespie said.
Dr Gillespie said this inherently arbitrary and inhumane process for dealing with newborn children threatened to render these babies as stateless and cut their access to health care, legal protection and longer term, education and even job opportunities.
“Statelessness has profound, negative effects on children’s identity and their development and creates greater risks of experiencing labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, trafficking, poverty and discrimination,” he said.
Dr Gillespie added there was an irony in the fact Australia would seek to breach so many articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the exact same time the rest of the world was celebrating a 25-year milestone of child rights.
“While the rest of the world celebrates the gains made for children over the past 25 years of the 1989 Children’s Convention, here at home we are willing to take retrograde steps for children who sought our protection.”
Experts from the Human Rights Law Centre, UNICEF Australia, Save the Children, Plan, the Human Rights Council of Australia and Children’s Rights International have said the Bill, introduced into Parliament by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on 25 September, fails to meet Australia’s international obligations and risks the lives of men, women and children fleeing terror and persecution.
Dr Gillespie said UNICEF Australia was calling for the Bill not to be passed.
Source: UNICEF Australia