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Australia: Zero tolerance for migrant domestic violence

The Australian government wants to expel foreigners who attack women or children from the country.

Published: March 5, 2019, 9:02 am

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    “Entering and staying in Australia is a privilege and non-Australians are expected to abide by the laws,” said Migration Secretary David Coleman, explaining the bill to Australian news agency AAP.

    Regardless of punishment, there will be no tolerance for domestic violence in Australia, Coleman said. So far, foreigners could be only refused a visa if they had been in prison for more than twelve months.

    He said the new direction would apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. “There is a case of a person who was guilty of assaulting his young son, who was denied a visa. The administrative appeals tribunal overturned that.

    “There was a case of a person who was applying for a student visa who was guilty of assaulting his wife, who was denied a visa. And the administrative appeals tribunal overruled that,” he said.

    Coleman’s decision to keep abusers out of the country, came into force on Thursday, the Herald-Sun reported, now barring anyone who has committed violence against women or children. “If you’ve been convicted of a violent crime against women or children, you are not welcome,” Coleman said.

    Australia is known for its strict immigration policy.

    In the 2017/2018 administrative year, Australia’s liberal government had withdrawn 900 visas. The victims were mostly sex offenders, drug dealers and members of rocker groups.

    The country is known for its strict immigration policy. In the past, for example, Austria’s Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) praised Australia’s border patrol as a role model for the EU.

    Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie has condemned successive Australian governments for its immigration policy. “We are a signatory to the Rome Statute,” he told broadcaster ABC. He is a member of the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.

    “The Rome Statute addresses crimes against humanity, and it’s a crime against humanity to forcibly transfer anyone to a third country and to detain them indefinitely without trial. We have a series of Australian governments that are guilty of crimes against humanity.”

    But Wilkie’s outrageous claim is an allegation of criminal conduct that is untested in a court of law.

    A number of communiques calling for Australian government officials to be investigated for crimes against humanity, as defined by the 1998 Rome Statute, have been submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in 2014, including a request by Wilkie in 2014. But to date, no such investigation has been launched.

    According to Australian Professor Donald Rothwell, an expert in international law, “an enormous amount of assessment and analysis of the facts” would be required even if Australia is a signatory to the statute.

    Crimes against humanity include genocide, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The ICC investigates and prosecutes people — not states — who bear the greatest responsibility for these crimes.

    According to Article 7 of the Rome Statute, a number of acts constitute a crime against humanity when they are knowingly committed as part of a “widespread or systematic attack” against people.

    These include: The deportation or forcible transfer of a population; imprisonment or severe deprivation of physical liberty; and other inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to mental and physical health.

    In addition to being “widespread or systematic”, a crime must be also be of “sufficient gravity” to warrant action by the court.

    Wilkie alleges that Australian government representatives breached Article 7 by imprisoning, deporting and forcibly transferring asylum seekers and refugees detained on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, and that these people were suffering physical and mental harm as a result of the government’s policies.

    He is not alone in his call for Australian officials to be investigated for such crimes. The Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, a coalition of legal experts from Stanford Law School in the United States, also submitted a communique to the ICC requesting an investigation in February 2017.

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