Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.

Australian International Law Blog

A blog about all things relevant to the Australian Legal industry, international law and human rights. Have a suggestion or a post? Add it to our submissions
Jul 21 '13

Australian Politicians Need Lesson in Causative Relationships

Riots in Nauru on Friday:

According to Australia’s politicians, there are only two causes to blame for the $60m worth of damage sustained by the offshore processing centre at Nauru: either it’s Labour’s fault. Or worse! Blame the boats (some sarcasm involved).

While the riots have clearly engaged the attention of our politicians, it seems that the conclusions drawn are completely misguided. Or as I like to put it: WRONG. 

There’s been suggestion that the riots became out of control due to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement on Friday afternoon that all new irregular maritime arrivals will have their refugee claims processed in Papua New Guinea. There are several issues with this new policy which I will discuss later.

With the PNG issue aside, it is clear that the current offshore processing regime is failing. Just like the PM said it would in 2008 when he began the process in de-constructing the Howard Government’s relic - the Pacific Solution.

So far, all attempts made at diverting irregular maritime arrival (AKA “boat people”) refugee claims have not provided a solution at all. At this stage it becomes more and more clear that these bipartisan policies are “out of sight and out of mind” than anything else.

Then consider Australia’s international obligations. 

Just earlier last week the Prime Minister made the claim that Australia will have to make some adjustments as to how refugee claims are assessed under the Refugee Convention. 

Hold up. Did Australia already a ratified signatory of the Refugee Convention? Doesn’t this mean that if Australia does make those “adjustments” (Whatever they are), Australia would be making a unilaterial change to the treaty? Doesn’t that fly in the face of International law? 

At this stage, my analysis is rudimentary but I would think the answer is yes.

Congratulations Australia. Let us sink into this abyss of obscure backwardness as the rest of the international legal community systematically says:

Jun 17 '13



This woman is Ranjini.  She’s a Tamil from Sri Lanka, a group facing brutal violence.  She and her family have met the incredibly harsh Australian criteria for being considered a “genuine refugee”.  But Australian intelligence cancelled her visa because they say she’s a security risk — and won’t say why.  But because she’s recognised as a refugee, they can’t deport her.  She can’t go home, and she can’t get out.  Her baby Paari was born in detention and could spend the rest of his life there.  Effectively, she’s being imprisoned for life on no charge.  

50-odd other refugees, mostly Tamil, are in the same boat.  Many have indicated that they would rather the government kill them than keep them in detention any longer.  As far as we can tell, people are receiving “adverse security assessments” mostly because they have (sometimes incredibly tangential) connections to groups considered a security risk, like the Tamil Tigers.  In a community like that of Sri Lankan Tamils, that has been in a state of undeclared war for many years, almost everybody will have some kind of connection to a resistance group. 

Today,  an appeal of Ranjini’s adverse security assessment was denied.  Find out more at Letters for Ranjini.  For general news and ways to support asylum seekers in Australia, check out RISE: Refugees, Survivors, and Ex-Detainees, the first organisation in Australia run by and for refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees. 


Jun 12 '13

Fuck The Master’s Tools


There’re a lot of thinkers and writers I respect, but recently I’ve been getting super pumped up by the work of Audre Lorde - an American, black, lesbian poet and academic who is one of the key people in Intersectionalist discourse.

One of her seminal papers is “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”, in which she discusses the racism and homophobia of conventional feminism. 

Lorde’s metaphor here was in terms of the idea that the opressor will use infighting among the oppressed (white women hating women of colour, heterosexuals hating homosexuals, etc) to retain their hold on power. Go google the essay and read it — it’s brilliant.

A different tangent on the idea of the “Master’s Tools” strikes me every time I get told off when I am ranting and raving about various forms of injustice — whether it be racism, gender discrimination, or the awful things that happen to asylum seekers because of woeful Australian government policy, an Anglo bloke 100% of the time will tell me to stop being so oversensitive or, worst of the worst, *nasty* when I rage about the perpetrators.

Read More

May 30 '13

The Opposition’s war cry against Refugee rights

Yesterday’s question-time was yet another demonstration of the opposition’s “hard line” stance against the convention-sanctioned protection of asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat.

What came as a seldom-reported claim (and this time was no exception) from the Prime Minister that this stance is simply building fear among the Australian people. 

That’s right. What the Opposition was spouting about security assessments and processing was not supported by any evidence. 

Whether it’s from fear of employment, safety, housing or maintaining privilege; the attitude that asylum seekers are unworthy of our protection is rather over reported. 

Over the last decade, activist groups including Amnesty International and the Refugee Council of Australia have been working tirelessly to put truth to these irrational fears of people fleeing persecution on the basis of how they have come to arrive here. 

All that hard work is being undermined by our politicians doing what they do best, playing politics rather than contributing to representative government. 

At no point was it mentioned in yesterday’s question-time that the Opposition was concerned about all visa applicants on bridging visas who have yet to obtain police checks. Neither was it heard from our Government that a legitimate concern would be our entire immigration system. 

The issue, paradoxically, remains restricted to the 3% of Australia’s total immigration. 

May 28 '13

Tony Abbott supports the constitutional inclusion of Australia’s First People

Constitutional recognition of Australia’s First People has bipartisan support. Should we expect this to be added to the referendum question at the September 14 election? 

Bigger question: how might such recognition be drafted? There have already been a number of focus groups and bipartisan committees set up to draft such an inclusion, which have failed to result in agreement. 

Hopefully Parliament can come to some agreement so that what began in 1975 with the Anti-discrimination Act and climaxed with Keven Rudd’s Apology can be finally completed. To include the people whom we stripped of their lands, their rights and their identities. 

May 28 '13
May 27 '13
May 22 '13

ASIC and its Censorship: a quick discussion of the issues

If you’re not already privy to the backlash of the recent ASIC censorship bungle, here are some of the headlines:

Quick summary: ASIC has moved to block access to websites it considers to be a threat to consumers. This move has no parliamentary or legal oversight and, unfortunately, is well within ASIC’s powers.

“But how could ASIC possibly have the power to take down websites from Australian viewership without any legal loopholes. Surely, this is a right to free expression issue?” you may ask.

Read More

May 18 '13
May 13 '13