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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 2

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

This Article is breached because the Australian government has determined that one distinct group - asylum seekers who arrive at Australian shores with the help of individuals, groups or organisations we have come to name "people smugglers" - should be legislated against and restricted in terms of their rights to free entry in Australia and their rights to the benefits determined by Australia's signature status under the UN Refugee Convention.

The targeting of this particular group, setting them apart through the manner in which they arrive, appears to be a clear example of 'discrimination based on one determinant or a set of determinants'.

By using the terms "illegal entrant", "illegal immigrant" and "unauthorised arrivals", the Australian government has further created a powerful myth which denies the implications of obligations with apply because of the UN Refugee Convention and associated recommendations, conclusions and guidelines.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 3

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

This Article is breached because the policy of 'mandatory detention' is applied to asylum seekers as a blanket rule, without reference to the various reasons stipulated in the UN Refugee Convention guidelines - such as the fact that detention needs to be enacted as a 'last resort', and on a 'case-by-case basis only'. Mandatory detention is contrary to all recommendations and advice of UNHCR, it is itself in breach of this Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even if in Australia legislation has been passed by Parliament to "make this OK" in Australia - it does NOT make it OK at all. The Right to Liberty is withheld from asylum seekers who arrive "uninvited" to Australian shores.

In addition, there is a growing and 'overwhelming body of evidence' through thousands of letters to refugee friends and supporters that the 'security of person' is seriously breached in detention centres. Information about progress of asylum applications is withheld, detainees' unfettered and continuing access to lawyers is compromised, and inappropriate attitudes, intimidation and cultural/religious taunts from staff of the companies who are charged with the running of detention centres as well as from DIMIA (the Department of Immigration) staff make detainees feel seriously insecure.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 5

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

This Article is breached because from thousands of letters and phonecalls with those held in detention, an 'overwhelming body of evidence' has been collected to suggest that detainees are subject to treatment in a derogatory way, with methods such as 'stand-over tactics', bullying, cultural and religious taunts etc.

The companies contracted by the Australian government to run detention centres, Australasian Correctional Management and Group 4Falck are not 'residential care' companies, but prison security companies. With it they bring an organisational culture of "prison rule", and they train their staff along the guidelines they know best: how to control long-term, high-risk criminals.

Amongst the most frequently expressed issues in letters from detainees are the cries "I am not an animal, I am not a criminal".

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 6

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

This Article is breached because asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australian waters, are barred from being a person before the law - with the full rights, equal to all others in the Australian territories - through some deliberate and intended policies.

First, through Australia's "Pacific Solution", those seeking asylum in Australia, are transported against their will, or without their prior knowledge, to "third countries" such as Papua New Guinea or Nauru, with the express intent to bar them access to Australian legislation, but only access to those countries' legislation.

Second, through attempts to "excise islands" surrounding Australia from Australia for migration purposes, the Howard government intends to deliberately set out to bar full and unfettered access to the Australian legal system for the purposes of seeking asylum. This has resulted in serious discrimination of those who seek asylum, and has sometimes led to rather ridiculous arguments in Australian courts, where lawyers for the government attempted to tell the courts, that because asylum seekers found themselves in one of those 'excised' territories, that they 'were not in Australia' or a 'non-person' in Australia. It seems that the 'excision' bills introduced, sometimes successfully, by the current government, are squarely in breach of this article of the Declaration.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 7

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

This Article is breached because  as is the case with the noted breaches under article 6, Australian policies appear to seriously breach article 7:

Through Australia's "Pacific Solution", those seeking asylum in Australia, are transported against their will, or without their prior knowledge, to "third countries" such as Papua New Guinea or Nauru, with the express intent to bar them access to Australian legislation, but only access to those countries' legislation - an intent to discriminate and introduce a deliberate in-equality for asylum seekers under the law.

Through attempts to "excise islands" surrounding Australia from Australia for migration purposes, the Howard government intends to deliberately set out to bar full and unfettered access to the Australian legal system for the purposes of seeking asylum. This has resulted in serious discrimination of those who seek asylum. There is no "equal protection" against this 'officially legislated' discrimination of asylum seekers.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 8

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

This Article is breached because because of some clauses already in place, such as the "28-day rule", where an appeal against any decisions about asylum seeker assessments needs to be lodged within 28 days; further, the Howard government seeks to limit the powers and independence of one such 'national tribunal' - The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission - by wanting the power for HREOC to represent clients, also asylum seekers in an Australian Court, to be subject to prior approval by a politician, who is highly likely to be subject to party-politican bias: the Attorney-General.

Further, the former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, who is now the Attorney-General, seeks to introduce further legislation to restrict appeals by asylum seekers in Australian Courts, because reportedly they "are clogging the court system", however, as Jesuit priest Fr Frank Brennan has shown that DIMIA got it wrong 62% of the time, when they assessed Afghani refugee claims, and they got it wrong 87% of the time for Iraqi refugees: this error rate is more likely to be the cause of many appeals than any other reason.

In addition, requests to State and Federal Police to investigate issues such as assaults, bashings, tear-gasssing of children and women or detainees who pose(d) no danger in certain incidents, the use of water-cannons in detention centres, the use of hand and foot-cuffing of men, women and children, have consistently been met with the "passing-the-buck" strategy: unsure how to respond, having not been given a clear mandate on how to act by the Federal government, State and Federal police, as a great number of examples show, keep avoiding their responsibilities.

On other occasions, if the State or Federal police - in response to a request from the companies who manage detention centres or the Commonwealth government - have had an involvement in any incidents inside detention centres, they are faced with the additional issue of a lack of review and openness to scrutiny of their actions.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 9

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

This Article is breached because although Australia's amendments to the 1948 Migration Act have nicely "made it all legal", mandatory detention is so flagrantly in breach of the UN Refugee Convention, this Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and because it constitutes "imprisonment without charges", that Australia's asylum seeker policies should really be regarded as 'arbitrary detention' in this context.

And in terms of what happened to those who attempted to reach Australian waters, only to be put on board of Australian NAVY vessels and transported to detention centres as part of Australia's "Pacific Solution" - with many testimonials from the victims of this solution stating they were taken there without being told, without intervention of the United Nations, and against their will, Australia's approach in this context should be regarded as 'arbirtary exile'.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 12

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

This Article is breached because from letters to refugee supporters there is evidence that mail has been tampered with by the companies that run Australia's detention centres. At the Baxter detention centre, mail sent to all Iranian detainees in around May 2003 to alert them to the forming of NADA, the National Anti-Deportation Alliance, was opened. All letters were taken out of their original envelopes, and re-packaged in DIMIA envelopes. This serious breach of individuial rights to privacy resulted in many detainees thinking that DIMIA were the organisers of this NADA action. This action by the DIMIA manager, based on past performance of DIMIA, can only be explained as a deliberate act.

At the now closed Curtin detention centre, centre managers simply threw forms lodged by detainees to appeal asylum decisions into the rubbish bin. Incident reports written by nursing staff about sexual abuse of a minor in the Woomera detention centre, were thrown in the bin; other reports written by staff were torn up and thrown away.

Evidence exists that DIMIA has clearly breached the right to privacy by intrusively stepping into private space of couples or families in detention centres. The fact that families live in detention centres in the first place, breaches the right to privacy for families. Similarly, community detention facilities, heavily monitored and guarded, breach this article; so does the presence of camera equipment inside detention centres (as if they're needed when people who have committed no crime are surrounded by 9,000 volts electical wire as well as barbed wire)

Once again, the outcry in letters "we are not animals, we have committed no crime" depict how people are treated by detention centre staff; often these outcries are not just sent by people who deserve dignity and respect, but also people who in the countries they fled would be deserving of high respect because of their musical, scientific, literary or other achievements and distinctions.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 13

Article 13

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

This Article is breached without any ambiguity in Australia for asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by sea. Settled "for national approval" within the confines of Australian law, mandatory detention is of course, sometimes up to six years at a time, for men, women and children, in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first and foremost laid down in this article. Laws that are enshrined in a nation's legislation, do not undo an international convention of a stature such as this.

When an Australian Court orders the release of an asylum seeker from detention because detention of such person is found to be illegal, the Australian government further breaches this article by refusing to issue a visa to this person. There are now many people who have been ordered to be released from detention but who do not have a visa. This seriously restricts their freedom of movement in the country (apart from their rights of access to all kinds of services) - and it compels them to report very frequently to the department of immigration or a police station. These people however, do not pose a danger to society.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 14

Article 14

1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

This Article is breached because the entire strategic position in Australia under Howard is one of first imprisoning those who seek asylum in Australia - often for years on end - and then, once the asylum seeker is successful in the claim for asylum, to grant a temporary protection visa for 3 years only, with the proviso that the holder

  1. may not leave Australia (for example to go to a neighbouring "safe" country close to the family home location, to see a child that's seriously ill, or a spouse who may be dying) or, if he or she does, irrevocably loose the protection;

  2. is liable for all the costs of having been detained, costs that often build up to sums between $100,000 - $300,000;

  3. may not bring relatives to Australia, something that's an integral part of the United Nations Refugee Convention - and called the "family reunion" clause.

these aspects are designed to send the message to the subjects of this asylum claim, that they are not wanted at all: upon punishment of alienation from one's family, or the amassing of a huge debt against the Australian Commonwealth, you may complete your process of seeking asylum in Australia!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 15

Article 15

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

This Article is breached because

  1. a baby born in the Woomera detention centre to asylum seeker parents did not get a nationality, deliberately designed by Australia's laws to make it impossible for the parents to argue in a court, that because the child has an Australian nationality, they have grounds for a successful claim;

  2. there are dozens of asylum seekers who have been in Australian detention for years, because they cannot be "deported" back to the country they came from - examples are Palestinians coming from Kuwait, or asylum seekers born in the territory of Kashmir (do a Google search on this website for "Peter Qasim", and you'll find the story!) - because the 'home' country of these asylum seekers refuses to confirm their identity as a national, either because their registration administration is not organised enough, or the home country wants to deny that the person has fled and sought protection elsewhere.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 16

Article 16

3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

This Article is breached because  once an asylum seeker who came "unannounced" - or as the government calls it "unauthorised" (or worse, "illegal") - is successful in an asylum claim process, Australia grants a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) for 3 years only, with the proviso that the holder, during this period, may not leave Australia (for example to go to a neighbouring "safe" country close to the family home location, to see a child that's seriously ill, or a spouse who may be dying) or, if he or she does, irrevocably loose the protection;

A refugee on a Temporary Protection Visa may not bring relatives to Australia - something that's an integral part of the United Nations Refugee Convention, it's called the "family reunion" clause.

So, Mr Howard may claim to be a "family man", but he does not hold that for asylum seekers in the way the policies have been designed. It looks more like the policies are designed to "punish" the asylum seeker "on a family level" for having had the courage to come to Australia and seek protection.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 17

Article 17

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

This Article is breached because Australia locks up everyone who enters Australia, not to become an "illegal immigrant", trying to clandestinely settle, but to report to the authorities forthwith and seek protection from persecution.

Australia does not lock up those people who come by aircraft to claim asylum (because they usually have a holiday or student visa), but only those who come by boat (because they do not ask for a holiday visa).

Australia's mass imprisonment of asylum seekers arriving by boat, through the use of regulations and rules and laws crafted by some politicians, the mass imprisonment of people who have committed no crime, amounts to arbitrary imprisonment nonetheless. No crime case is put before a court, no lawyers are involved in deciding whether or not to lock up an asylum seeker. It's a "mandatory" system. The policeman or citizen who spots the boat, rings Immigration; Immigration rings the Federal Police, and the Federal Police locks them up.

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 19

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 21

Article 21

2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 22

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 23

Article 23

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 25

Article 25

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 26

Article 26

1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

3.  Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 28

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 30

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

This Article is breached because 

In development: please come back soon!

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