Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


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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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Does the End Justify the Means? The Italian Machiavellian Response to Illegal Immigration

“La porta di Lampedusa” (Lampedusa’s door), also known as “La porta d’Europa” (Europe’s door). The monument, “looking” towards Africa, was built in 2008 on the Italian island of Lampedusa in memory of more than 10,000 migrants who died over the years while they were trying to reach the island.

By Paola Forgione

Gaddafi’s first official visits to Italy back in 2009 and 2010 hit the headlines for the extravagancies of the Libyan leader, including his hiring of hundreds of Italian models to be the audience of his lecture on Islam, and his failure to go to a prescheduled meeting at the Italian Parliament. However, the leader’s folkloristic eccentricities were probably reflecting his egocentric satisfaction for the agreement that he had signed with the then Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi in August 2008, whose anniversary was the reason for his visit. In the agreement, the “Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation” (hereinafter “The Treaty”), Italy expressed its apology for the “pain inflicted to the Libyan people” during the colonization of Libya, carried out by the former Kingdom of Italy between 1911 and 1943. Under the chapter titled “closing the door on the past”, Italy committed to investing US$5bn for infrastructure in Libya. In exchange, Libya undertook to cooperate with Italian authorities in the fight against illegal immigration. Continue Reading →


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Realism and Refugees

By Emma Larking*

Centre for International Governance and Justice, ANU

Refugee protest, Nauru Detention Centre. Image: Sydney Morning Herald

Refugee protest, Nauru Detention Centre. Image: Sydney Morning Herald

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen recently defended the warehousing of people on Nauru and Manus Island by saying the government has an ‘overriding moral and humanitarian obligation’ to stop asylum seekers drowning at sea.  ‘Stopping the boats’, and thereby the deaths of people at sea, is now said to be the Labor government’s primary policy goal in the refugee arena.  There is a very straightforward means of preventing the deaths of asylum seekers at sea without spending billions [1] to incarcerate them off-shore. Australia could abandon its current strategy of impounding or destroying asylum boats on arrival, and it could stop prosecuting boat crews. If it did so, the people who make arrangements for asylum seekers to travel by sea to Australia would be prepared to provide seaworthy craft, and enough people competent to crew them safely. Continue Reading →