• Australia has a strong record protecting civil and political rights, but has damaged its record and its potential to be a regional human rights leader by persistently undercutting refugee protections. Australia is frequently unwilling to publicly raise human rights abuses in countries with which it has strong trade or security ties, fearing that to do so would harm its relations with foreign governments. Human Rights Watch launched its first-ever office in Australia in August 2013, with the aim of increasing engagement with the Australian government on human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region. To support our work, please consider making a donation.

  • Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison smiles next to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng after a signing ceremony between Cambodia and Australia relating to the settlement of refugees, at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh September 26, 2014.
    The Australian government should press Cambodian authorities to implement key reforms to improve treatment of refugees in Cambodia before transferring any refugees from Nauru.

Reports

Australia

  • Dec 10, 2014
    The Australian government should cease forced returns of Sri Lankan asylum seekers until they are provided fair, thorough, and transparent processing of their protection claims, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Law Centre, and Human Rights Watch said today. On November 29, 2014, Australian authorities turned over to Sri Lankan authorities a boat carrying 37 asylum seekers.
  • Dec 1, 2014

    Tighter economic integration with China should not be a reason to delude oneself about the nature of a regime that is profoundly adverse to democracy, writes Nicholas Bequelin.

  • Nov 21, 2014
    When Abid was five, immigration officials arrested him and his family, Pakistani refugees fleeing religious persecution. The officials took them to the squalid immigration detention centre in central Bangkok. There, they joined hundreds of other refugees detained indefinitely, awaiting some distant possibility of release.
  • Nov 20, 2014
    The Australian government should press Cambodian authorities to implement key reforms to improve treatment of refugees in Cambodia before transferring any refugees from Nauru.
  • Oct 20, 2014
    Prime Minister Tony Abbott had the opportunity to restart his "more Jakarta, less Geneva" foreign policy when he attended the inauguration of Indonesia's new president, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo yesterday.
  • Oct 15, 2014
    A counterterrorism bill before the Australian parliament would introduce overly broad new criminal offenses that undermine rights to freedom of expression and movement, Human Rights Watch said today in a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
  • Oct 3, 2014
    This submission raises concerns about the proposed new offenses of advocating terrorism, travel to “declared zones,” and the extended use of control orders and preventative detention in the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill (the “Foreign Fighters Bill”).
  • Sep 24, 2014
    A new refugee agreement between Australia and Cambodia does not meet Australia’s commitment to send refugees to a “safe third country,” and will undermine refugee protection in the region, Human Rights Watch said today. A Cambodian government press release states that the Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the settlement of refugees in Cambodia with the Cambodian interior minister, Sar Kheng, in Phnom Penh on September 26, 2014.
  • Sep 21, 2014
    Sweeping laws to gag publication of sensitive materials are dangerous for democracy – Abbott should not let hysteria over terrorism be used to thwart the freedom agenda
  • Sep 15, 2014

    We, the undersigned organisations, are writing to urge the Australian Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and implement a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) without delay.