Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council - 29th Regular Session

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the human rights of migrants

Australian Statement

15 June 2015

The movement of irregular migrants in unprecedented numbers with countless lives tragically lost at sea is a significant and complex challenge. As we said this morning, the priority for Australia remains protection of life at sea. This is a key driver of Australian policy. At the same time, unscrupulous and criminal behaviour that undermines peoples’ right to protection and dignity must be met with a firm response.

Let me add that Australia takes its international legal obligations seriously. Australia ensures that all persons in its jurisdiction, including children, are treated with respect, dignity, and that their human rights are protected.

We would therefore take strong issue with the High Commissioner’s assessment of Australia’s policy and attitudes towards irregular maritime arrivals.

Australia is taking a comprehensive, practical and cooperative approach to manage this challenge. We are a significant donor to regional countries to help address the root causes of people smuggling and trafficking – supporting both economic development and human rights.

Strong laws and effective border management are important to disrupt, investigate and prosecute criminal syndicates involved in people smuggling and trafficking. As co-chair of the Bali Process, involving 48 countries and organisations, we support improvements to law enforcement, legal capacity, and border security to combat people smuggling and trafficking.

Our humanitarian program provides refugees with a safe and legal pathway to resettlement. As we mentioned this morning, we are among the top three UNHCR resettlement countries in the world, with our substantive intake of 13,750 places set to increase over coming years. As a country of migration, Australia has a significant regulated migration and labour mobility program that is well-governed and safe.

We will continue to work with partner countries in seeking safe, regular and enabling migration.