Asylum-seekers branded a risk by ASIO appeal to UN
29 August 2011
Professor Ben Saul is co-ordinating a complaint on behalf of 38 asylum seekers to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, after ASIO declared them threats to national security.
The 38 asylum-seekers, most of whom are Tamils, will today ask the committee to direct the Australian government to release them into the community while a decision is made about whether their detention is lawful.
Professor Saul said the complaint was being made under the optional protocol on the UN Covenant International and Civil Rights, to which Australia is a signatory.
Under the protocol, individuals can directly petition the UN if all domestic legal options have been exhausted.
Professor Saul said indefinite administrative detention was "clearly illegal" under international human rights law.
"You can't just hold people because you don't know what to do with them," Professor Saul said.
The government has repeatedly said it is seeking third-country resettlement options for the asylum-seekers.
But Professor Saul dismissed the explanation.
"What's actually happening is that Australia's holding them because they've got nowhere else to send them," he said. "Australia is misusing the Migration Act."
Contact: Greg Sherington
Phone: +61 2 9351 0202