The High Court of Australia [official website] ruled [judgment] Wednesday that the country’s offshore detention policy for asylum seekers is legal, rejecting a challenge that it violates the Australian constitution. The challenge was brought by lawyers for a female Bangladeshi detainee who was brought to Australia for medical reasons. Under the controversial policy, those who seek asylum in Australia arriving by boat are detained [VOA report] on the island of Nauru or on the Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The policy has generated outcry from human rights advocates and some senators, who argue that Nauru is not safe [BBC report] for children, as the ruling is set to allow more than 250 people [BBC report], including 37 babies, to be deported to detention camps. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child [official website] urged [press release] Australian authorities to make the best interests of the children theit primary consideration, reminding them that they remain a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child [text]. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull [personal website] has defended the policy that they must ensure that the country’s borders remain secure.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Earlier this month the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of torture stated [JURIST report] that migrant detention facilities in Cyprus need better monitoring and should improve conditions. Last month Danish lawmakers passed a controversial bill [JURIST report] allowing authorities to seize assets from immigrants seeking asylum to cover their expenses. Also last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] saying that Lebanese residency laws risked creating a large undocumented community of refugees living at the margins of society. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Also that month Amnesty International analyzed [JURIST report] the EU’s approach to the refugee crisis and recommends changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October HRW called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe.