Immigration Minister plans to toss a coin on torture

The Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, has introduced a bill to make it easier to deport asylum seekers who face a risk of torture or death in their country of origin. The proposed changes are in response to statutory interpretation of the Migration Act that the government disagrees with. The Explanatory Memorandum to the bill states: “The Full Federal Court’s decision in Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZQRB … found that the threshold to be applied to assessing complementary protection claims is whether there is a ‘real chance’ of significant harm, the same threshold that applies to the assessment of claims under the Refugees Convention. The Government’s position is that the risk threshold applicable to the non-refoulement obligations … is ‘more likely than not’. ‘More likely than not’ means that there would be a greater than fifty percent chance that a person would suffer significant harm in the receiving country.” The Age columnist Tony Wright translates the legal language as follows: “In short, if there is a mere 49 to 50 per cent chance of … being hung by one’s thumbs from meathooks while being thrashed by a length of electrical flex, that’s good enough for Mr Morrison. They can be sent to whatever fate might await them.”