Author: mariaosullivan


    The implications of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court decision  By Maria O’Sullivan The highest court in Papua New Guinea has, in a unanimous decision, found that detention of refugees and asylum seekers in its Australian-funded ‘processing’ centres is unconstitutional. Although the Supreme Court decision is not directly enforceable under Australian law, it will have […]

  • The 2015 Human Rights Report – The latest refugee laws weaken protection for the vulnerable

    By Maria O’Sullivan This piece is featured in the 2015 Castan Centre Human Rights Report. We will be featuring the articles on the blog throughout the month of May.  Refugee law in Australia is the subject of political controversy and rapid change. This was illustrated in the last hours of the final sitting of the Senate on […]

  • Australia can detain asylum seekers on the high seas, the High Court decides

    By Maria O’Sullivan On Wednesday, the High Court handed down an important judgment on the legality of the interception of asylum seeker vessels and the detention of those onboard on the high seas. It ruled, by a 4:3 majority, that the Sri Lankan asylum seekers held at sea in 2014 on a Customs vessel were […]

  • Questioning the queue: blocking protection to asylum seekers in Indonesia

    By Maria O’Sullivan Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has announced that asylum seekers residing in Indonesia while awaiting protection will no longer obtain resettlement in Australia. This move puts into serious question the humanitarian rationale for Australia’s resettlement program and its work on a Regional Co-operation Framework for asylum seekers in Southeast Asia. Government officials constantly […]

  • Explainer: Does Cambodia refugee deal comply with the convention?

    No other country in the developed world has signed an agreement with a developing nation for the resettlement of recognised refugees.

  • Preventing asylum seekers’ return to harm through the High Court

    By Maria O’Sullivan Later today, the High Court is due to hear a challenge to the screening and transfer of a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to Sri Lankan authorities. Under international law, return of persons to their country of origin without properly ascertaining if they are refugees is clearly in breach of […]

  • 2014 Castan Human Rights Report: Europe – protecting asylum seekers’ core rights

    By Maria O’Sullivan Just as the arrival of boats carrying asylum seekers has been a high-profile political issue in Australia for some years, asylum has been similarly controversial in Europe. However, events there highlight how governments can deal with this controversial issue while protecting asylum seekers’ core human rights. Two important developments in particular have […]

  • The PNG solution: as harsh as it is unprecedented

    By Maria O’Sullivan Under the ”regional agreement” signed by Australia and Papua New Guinea on Friday, all asylum seekers who travel to Australia by boat will be transferred to PNG and have their asylum claims processed there by local officials. Controversially, those asylum seekers recognised as refugees will be resettled in PNG, and not Australia. […]

  • ‘Push Backs’ of Boats to Indonesia

    By Maria O’Sullivan This piece considers whether the opposition’s plan to “tow back” boats to Indonesia complies with international law.  On 17 July, our associate Azadeh Dastyari published this critique of the opposition’s claim that its plan is similar to the United States’ tow back policy. For a number of years now, the debate about how to […]

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