Foster and Pobjoy, Int J Refugee Law, “A Failed Case of Legal Exceptionalism? Refugee Status Determination in Australia’s ‘Excised’ Territory”

The latest edition of the International Journal of Refugee Law contains an article by Michelle Foster (Associate Professor and Director, Research Programme in International Refugee Law, Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School) and Jason Pobjoy (PhD candidate in Law, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge; Hauser Visiting Doctoral Researcher, New York University School of Law) entitled “A Failed Case of Legal Exceptionalism? Refugee Status Determination in Australia’s ‘Excised’ Territory.

Abstract: “One of the hallmarks of contemporary state practice in the field of refugee law is the attempt by many states to exclude potential refugees from the international rule of law by implementing creative policies and practices designed to create ‘zones of exception’. This article analyses one of the most blatant attempts at creating a zone of exception in recent times, namely, the creation of more than 4,891 excised places in Australia in which the ordinary safeguards enshrined in the onshore domestic system of refugee protection were intended to be excluded. The article traces the history of the purported excision, outlines the key features of the so-called ‘non-statutory’ process that has subsequently been instituted on Christmas Island as an alternative to the onshore domestic system of refugee status determination, assesses its compatibility with international law, and describes and analyses a recent landmark decision of the High Court of Australia that unanimously and categorically rejected the notion that such a scheme could validly operate outside the (domestic) rule of law. It concludes by considering the domestic and international law ramifications of this decision for Australia’s current proposals for a new regional solution to its perceived refugee problem and, in particular, its recent ‘refugee swap’ arrangement with Malaysia.”

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Filed under Analysis, Australia, Indian Ocean

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