Australia: New Bill violates international law
In Australia, a new Bill proposes to raise the threshold for granting protection to people who risk torture or other ill-treatment in their home countries. The APT, together with the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, strongly urge the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee of the Senate to refuse the proposal, which would violate Australia’s international commitments under the UN Convention against Torture.
What is the “acceptable risk” that a person might be tortured if he or she is forced to return to a particular country? The current Australian Migration Act provides that a person should be granted a protection visa if there is a “real risk” of torture in the home country. The new Bill, currently before the Australian Parliament, would significantly raise the threshold so that protection is only given if it is “more likely than not” that the person will be subjected to torture.
This formulation would put Australia in contradiction with its international obligations under the UN Convention against Torture. As guardian of the Convention, the UN Committee against Torture consistently reminds States parties that they must examine whether asylum seekers would face “a foreseeable, real and personal risk” of torture upon return. The risk does not have to be highly probable, but it must be personal and present.
The APT and the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture have made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, to urge that the current standard for non refoulement of real risk be retained.
Read the submission