Asylum seekers' chances of Australian protection curbed
THE Refugee Council of Australia has warned the passing of the Migration Amendment Bill will hinder refugee's chances of Australian protection.
The House of Representatives agreed to the senate's amendments to the bill yesterday, which means a number of changes to asylum claims assessment processes.
The burden of proof has been shifted onto asylum seekers and new grounds have been created to deny Protection Visas to people with false identity documents.
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) fear the changes will require the Refugee Review Tribunal to make unfavourable inferences about the credibility of refugee claims.
RCOA president Phil Glendenning said decision makers can already deny refugee status to people without legitimate claims under the current processing system.
"This Bill won't make it easier for decision-makers to deny protection to people who don't have genuine claims; it will make it harder for people who do have genuine claims to access the protection they deserve," Mr Glendenning said.
He said the bill ignores the many reasons vulnerable asylum seekers may not have legitimate documentation, such as having to flee quickly or it being too dangerous to use genuine documents.
"Ironically, the fact that an asylum seeker has been forced to use false documents in order to escape is often a sign that they are genuinely at risk of persecution," Mr Glendenning said.
He said RCOA is relieved provisions to change the criteria for assessing complementary protection claims were removed from the bill.
"If the Bill had passed in its original form, asylum seekers would only have been granted complementary protection if it was 'more likely than not' that they would be harmed upon return - that is, if they had a greater than 50% chance of being harmed," Mr Glendenning said.
"This could have resulted in people who were at very real risk of serious harm being denied protection and returned to danger," he said.