Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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Regional resettlement – solving the ‘refugee problem’ at any price?

Australia - No you can't come in copy

By Emma Larking

Is there anything money can’t buy? It buys most things, apparently. A list compiled recently by American philosopher Michael Sandel includes a prison cell upgrade, the services of a surrogate mother, the right to shoot an endangered black rhino, and admission to a prestigious university.  Sandel’s list is a prelude to his investigation of what he calls ‘the moral limits of markets,’ and to his claim that ‘there are some things money should not buy.’  [1] Here I want to ask if money can buy us out of our moral obligations to asylum seekers. Kevin Rudd would like us to think it can. He maintains that the ‘Regional Resettlement Arrangement’ (RRA) signed last Friday with Papua New Guinea PM Peter O’Neill will ‘ensure that we have a robust system of border security and orderly migration, on the one hand, as well as fulfilling our legal and compassionate obligations under the refugees convention on the other.’

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Legal Challenge to Detention on Manus

By Emma Larking

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

A protest by asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie, Sydney Morning Herald

A protest by asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie, Sydney Morning Herald

Regarding Rights is following a legal challenge to the Manus Island Asylum Seeker Detention Centre with interest (see the report in yesterday’s Australian). The challenge was lodged last month by PNG opposition leader Belden Namah, who claims the Detention Centre, and the Agreement with Australia to establish and run the Centre, breaches the PNG Constitution. Namah’s lawyers, along with commentators in the Australian media, suggest the challenge has strong prospects of success given the PNG constitution provides a protection of individual liberty which is not limited to citizens of the country. I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but according to my reading of the constitution, the situation is somewhat more complicated.

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