We are a group of legal and policy practitioners and academics with expertise in refugee and migration law. We strongly support measures to bring Australian law in line with our international obligations, but despite its title, the Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Bill 2021 does not achieve that. 


Rather, the Bill, which was rushed through Parliament with bipartisan support today, increases the risk that refugees and others in need of protection will be detained indefinitely, without adequate judicial review. This is contrary to international law and inconsistent with the practices of other democratic countries, which impose statutory time limits on immigration detention and allow judicial oversight of such detention.


Further, the Bill creates a complicated and inefficient administrative process which: 


  • does not guarantee protection against return to persecution or serious harm to all people who engage Australia's non-refoulement obligations; 
  • limits other fundamental international law rights, including the right to liberty and the rights of the child;
  • grants the Minister a new power to disregard a person’s refugee status for the purposes of Australian law (despite that status being determined by international law); and 
  • will increase administrative burdens on the Department.

We are disappointed that this complex legislation was passed without appropriate consultation or referral to a parliamentary inquiry and with no government response to concerns raised by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. Creating legislation in this way undermines confidence in the integrity of parliamentary processes, especially when it affects, with retrospective effect, some of the most vulnerable people in Australia as well as the fundamental right to liberty. 


We maintain that the best way to ensure compliance with Australia’s international obligations to refugees and others entitled to international protection is to codify them unambiguously in domestic law. In various ways, Australia’s Migration Act does the opposite. For example, it provides that Australia’s non-refoulement obligations are 'irrelevant' to the duty to remove non-citizens with no prospect of obtaining a visa to remain in Australia, and allows for indefinite detention without adequate judicial review.


As we have done on many previous occasions, both individually and collectively, we stress the need for reforms to Australia’s migration laws to reduce administrative inefficiency while ensuring that Australia meets its obligations to those who are most vulnerable.



Amnesty International Australia

Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

Assent Migration Lawyers

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

A.U.M Lawyers

Buttar, Caldwell & Co. Solicitors

Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers

Circle Green Community Legal

Clothier Anderson Immigration Lawyers

Dr Sara Dehm, University of Technology Sydney

Estrin Saul Migration Specialists

Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre

Associate Professor Daniel Ghezelbash, Macquarie Law School

Human Rights For All

Human Rights Law Centre

Jesuit Refugee Service

Associate Professor Mary Anne Kenny, Murdoch University

Liberty Victoria

Simon Mason, Summit Migration

National Justice Project

Dr Maria O’Sullivan, Monash University

Refugee Advice & Casework Service

Refugee Council of Australia

Refugee and Immigration Legal Service

Refugee Legal

Russell Kennedy Lawyers

Associate Professor Savitri Taylor, La Trobe University

SCALES Community Legal Centre (WA)

Visa Cancellations Working Group

Nathan Willis, Visa Assist Australia

WLW Migration Lawyers

Associate Professor Matthew Zagor, Australian National University



Media contacts


Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law 

Lauren Martin, phone: +61 407 393 070

Email: lauren.martin@unsw.edu.au 


Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Dr Carolyn Graydon, phone: +61 498 552 227

Email: carolyn.g@asrc.org.au

Media release available here.


Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Matt Mitchell, phone: 0431 980 365


Human Rights For All 

Alison Battisson, phone: +61 400 635 110

Email: alison.battisson@hr4a.com.au


Human Rights Law Centre 

Evan Schuurman, phone: + 61 406 117 937 

Media release


Refugee Council of Australia Media Team

Phone: +61 488 035 535

E: media@refugeecouncil.org.au


Refugee Legal

David Manne, phone: (03) 9413 0103

Email: davidm@refugeelegal.org.au


Visa Cancellations Working Group

Sanmati Verma, phone: +61 3 9347 4022

Email: workinggroup@visacancellations.org or sanmati@clothieranderson.com.au