Refugee law to embrace more
February 24, 2009, SMH
AUSTRALIA will extend protection to people who are threatened with torture and death in their homelands but do not fall under the definition of "refugee".
The Government is to change the law to accommodate people not specifically included by regulations drafted to contend with the mass displacement of Europeans after World War II.
Under the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951, refugees must demonstrate they are subject to persecution on the basis of their race, political alignment, religion or nationality.
This means that in Australia those persecuted for other reasons or who are stateless are not offered protection or are, at best, put in prolonged detention.
The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, is considering offering such people what is known as complementary protection, which immigration lawyers say could save many lives.
"The Rudd Government is committed to humanity, fairness and integrity in its refugee policies," Senator Evans told the Herald.
New laws would ensure Australia was meeting its human rights obligations, he said.
It is understood Australian laws would offer those owed complementary protection the same rights as those deemed refugees, avoiding a two-tiered system.