Appendix 1: Key human rights obligations

Australia’s key human rights obligations which are relevant to asylum seekers, refugees and people in immigration detention are set out below.

People should not be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened (referred to as ‘refoulement’)[208]

Everyone has the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention[209]

Children should only be detained as a measure of last resort, and for the shortest appropriate period of time[210]

In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration (and in the case of their legal guardian, the primary consideration)[211]

Anyone who is detained has the right to challenge the legality of their detention in court[212]

All persons who are detained should be treated with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity[213]

No one should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment[214]

Everyone is entitled to respect for their human rights without discrimination[215]

Asylum seekers should not be penalised for arriving in a country without authorisation[216]

Everyone has the right to work, and to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing and housing[217]

Everyone is entitled to enjoy the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health[218]

Everyone has the right to have their family protected from arbitrary or unlawful interference[219]

Children who are unaccompanied and/or seeking asylum have a right to special protection and assistance[220]


[208] Art 33 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by its 1967 Protocol (Refugee Convention); at least arts 6 and 7 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); arts 6 and 37 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); arts 3 and 16 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

[209] Art 9(1) ICCPR; art 37(b) CRC.

[210] Art 37(b) CRC.

[211] Arts 3(1) and 18(1) CRC.

[212] Art 9(4) ICCPR; art 37(d) CRC.

[213] Art 10 ICCPR; art 37(c) CRC.

[214] Art 7 ICCPR; arts 2 and 16 CAT; art 37(a) CRC.

[215] Arts 2(1) and 26 ICCPR; art 2 CRC; art 2(2) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

[216] Art 31 Refugee Convention.

[217] Arts 6(1) and 11(1) ICESCR.

[218] Art 12 ICESCR.

[219] Arts 17 and 23 ICCPR; art 8(1) CRC.

[220] Arts 20 and 22 CRC.