10 September 2009

Greater protection with Australian visa for victims of inhumane treatment

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The Australian Government is introducing new laws to give complementary protection to people at risk of violation of their fundamental human rights and allow them to be considered under the same Australian visa process as claims under the Refugees Convention.

The new Australia migration amendment bill aims to protect people in circumstances in which they may currently be refused a protection visa because the reason for the persecution or harm on return to the home country is not for one of the specified reasons in the Refugees Convention - that is not on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 allows all of Australia's international human rights obligations to be considered under the same Australia visa process as claims under the Refugees Convention.

For example, it is not always certain that women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation would be protected by the Refugees Convention, but they would be covered under the complementary protection.

Also in some countries victims of rape are often executed along with their attackers, and depending on the circumstances this situation may not be covered under the Refugees Convention.

The bill establishes new criteria for the grant of a protection visa, an Australian visa in circumstances that engage Australia's obligations under human rights treaties other than the Refugees Convention. The criterion includes:

"Complementary protection is about helping vulnerable people - people at risk of the most serious forms of harm if returned to their home country. Where such claims are accepted as true, Australians would expect a protection visa to be granted," Senator Evans said.


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