Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton confirmed that Australia will not sign a United Nations global compact on migrants and refugees. Despite Australia playing a key role in the drafting of the negotiation agreement, Dutton refused to sign it in its “current form” because it compromises the nation’s sovereignty.
He said, “We’re not going to sign a deal that sacrifices anything in terms of our border protection policies. We’ve fought hard for them.”
Dutton added that Australia will not agree to anything that is not aligned with the country’s national interest. He insisted, “We’re not going to surrender our sovereignty – I’m not going to allow unelected bodies dictate to us, to the Australian people.”
With the government’s current laws and policies on border protection, refugees who arrive by boat are detained in offshore processing centers on Nauru in the Pacific and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
The director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb, expressed his disappointment with the decision. “Our government has detained 120 children in an island prison for five years. Twelve people have died. Children as young as 10 are trying to kill themselves,” he said.
Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrant Rights, Charmain Mohamed, stated that the global compact on migration and refugees mirror the valiant effort to create an extensive transformation in the way refugees are being treated by various governments.
The final draft of the compact indicated, “Countries need to review and revise relevant legislation, policies and practices related to immigration detention to ensure that migrants are not detained arbitrarily, that decisions to detain are based on law, are proportionate, have a legitimate purpose, and are taken on an individual basis, in full compliance with due process and procedural safeguards.”
Human Rights Advocates around the world now fear that Australia will become the third UN member to reject the global compact. United States abandoned negotiations late last year while Hungary withdrew from the deal last week.