Call for a Royal Commission into the Australian Government’s Treatment of Asylum Seekers sign now

In recent months, the Australian government's treatment of asylum seekers has caused outrage among many in the Australian and international communities. No other government has gone to such great lengths to close its borders to people fleeing repression and terror. No other government has turned away leaking boats full of asylum seekers and refused to take responsibility for the consequences. No other government has so openly violated its international human rights obligations.

Just days before the November 10 federal election, the Australian navy revealed that it had not told the government that asylum seekers were throwing their children into the ocean. Did the government lie about this incident to fuel its campaign to demonise asylum seekers? If this was a politically motivated lie, what else has been fabricated or covered up? Nothing less than a royal commission would have the power and authority to thoroughly investigate the Howard government's policies and actions toward asylum seekers, and the extent to which they violate international law and human rights.

We, the undersigned, call for the establishment of a royal commission to:

• Investigate the policy, enacted since the Tampa crisis, of intercepting asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat;
• Investigate the policy of mandatory, non-reviewable detention;
• Investigate the pressuring of Pacific Island nations to take asylum seekers seeking to come to Australia and the export of Australia’s detention policy to Pacific Island nations through funding detention facilities.
• Investigate the legality of the new laws enacted in September, in particular: excision of parts of Australian territory from the Migration Act; the permanent ban on family reunion for asylum seekers deemed to have arrived "illegally"; the effective removal of the right to judicial review; the government-legislated right to discriminate against refugees without documentation and those who have spent more than seven days in a third country on their way to Australia.
• Investigate the process of refugee application and appeal, including the obligation to inform people of their rights and explain the processes so they can exercise those rights and the need for access to legal representation
• Investigate the denial of family reunion rights to temporary protection visa holders, a restriction in place since 1999
• Investigate whether temporary protection visas and the system of mandatory detention violate the refugee convention, which forbids discrimination or punishment based on the method of arrival in Australia
• Investigate the denial of work rights, Medicare, English classes and welfare access to those who apply for refugee status more than 45 days after arriving in Australia

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The honourable Speaker and members of the Australian House of Representatives


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