Australia will scrap most of the country’s tough rules on locking up asylum seekers, but retain the practice for potential refugees who may be a security threat, the government announced yesterday.
The changes further wind back rules imposed by the previous government that made detention mandatory for people who arrived illegally in Australia — a policy that drew heavy criticism from rights activists and protests by asylum seekers.
Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans said a policy that locks away asylum seekers while they go through the often complicated and time-consuming process of applying for refugee status had caused “enormous damage” to Australia’s international reputation.
The government of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd “rejects the notion that dehumanizing and punishing unauthorized arrivals with long-term detention is an effective or civilized response,” Evans said.
“Desperate people are not deterred by the threat of harsh detention, they are often fleeing much worse circumstances,” he said in a speech in Canberra that was distributed to media.
The changes were cautiously welcomed by refugee advocates.
Australia has long been a destination for people from poor, often war-torn countries wishing to start a new life. In recent years, many of them have come from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Former Australian prime minister John Howard introduced the mandatory detention policies in 2001 in response to a wave of asylum seekers arriving by boat. The policies were widely popular at the time because of a perception that newcomers were cheating the refugee system.
But support for the program dwindled over the years, as asylum seekers languished in prison camp-like facilities that the government paid impoverished Nauru to host or were built at remote Outback sites. The camps were largely kept closed to outsiders, but images emerged of violent protests by detainees, who in some cases stitched their lips closed to symbolize their isolation.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s