A possie in Aussie

October 31, 2009

Want child abuse? Night raids? Summary justice? Just ask your Immigration official

Actions taken against people suspected of violating migration legislation are decided and applied by decision of the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

These ‘compliance’ actions are mostly taken against ‘aliens’ who have no resident status, but as we have seen in recent years, the Australian Immigration Department has also acted against Australian citizens such as Cornelia Rau.

Residents and citizens of Australia are protected by the Rule of Law, and so, once her status was discovered, Rau had to be released immediately and had recourse to compensation.

(Notice that protection against summary actions of the immigration department depends on those actions coming to light.)

When migration officials decide to take action, however, it seems that residency or any other status have little deterrent effect. This blog has reported about the child in immigration detention who was separated from her father and flown to Iran without his permission, Australian immigration officials investigated over child abduction, and overseas students who have been subject to compliance raids in the middle of the night and had their homes searched by immigration officials.  Failed your exam? Go to jail!

It is not only in Australia where immigration is a law unto itself. Human Rights Watch reports that, in 2008, airport police deported or removed one third of the 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children who arrived at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and who were denied entry into France.

“Airport border police place detained children in the same facilities as adults, putting the children at risk of abuse. They routinely threaten children as young as age six with deportation, subject children to strip searches, handcuff them during rides to hospitals, and order intrusive age examinations even when there is no doubt the child is under 18.” France: Abolish Airport Limbo for Migrant Children

There are of course international treaties that proclaim guidelines for the treatment of aliens. Some people refer to these as ‘laws’, but a law is not a law unless it can be enforced, and there is no body that can sanction nations for their treatment of people who are not official residents or citizens.

The wonderful Hannah Arendt more than half a century ago saw that the concept of human rights ‘collapses in ruins’ in the face of the stateless, the refugee, and the asylum seeker. To these we may add ‘those in the hands of immigration departments’.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] What’s a ‘possie’? Want child abuse? Night raids? Summary justice? Just ask your Immigration official […]

    Pingback by PhD tales from the Heathrow detention facility « A possie in Aussie — November 1, 2009 @ 6:53 am | Reply


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