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Australian human rights groups, UN official slam government's travel ban from India

By Our Representative 
The travel ban and penalties on Australians travelling from India under the pretext of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis has come under heavy criticism from the country's human rights organisations. The Humanism Project said that it is "deeply concerned" at the travel ban on Australian citizens returning from India, stating, it is nothing but "criminalisation of such travel under the Biosecurity Act."
In a statement, the Humanism Project said, while Australia should take "all possible measures to protect our biosecurity", it is also Australia's moral obligation "to look after its own citizens." It added, "The decision to impose hefty fines and jail term, without a plan to ensure safe return of its own citizen, is irresponsible, lacks compassion and raises serious human rights concerns."
The Australian Project said, the "Government must come forward with a plan that will ensure safe return of all Australians abroad and announce measures, and a plan to bring all Australians home, many of whom have been stranded overseas for a number of months."
It insisted, the government should also announce "a timeline for establishing suitable quarantine facilities so that Australians could travel to Australia from India, and from any other country, without putting Australia's biosecurity at risk."
In a separate statement, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), slamming Australia’s inbound flight ban from India, said, it raises "serious human rights concerns." Even as "supporting" the continuation of aid to the Indian government as it copes with the current Covid-19 crisis, the commission termed the new restrictions on Australians returning to Australia from India "extraordinary."
It said, “The need for such restrictions must be publicly justified. The government must show that these measures are not discriminatory and the only suitable way of dealing with the threat to public health." It urged Parliament’s Senate Select Committee on Covid-19 to "review" these new restrictions immediately.
Approaching the Australian government directly with its concerns, AHRC said, the commission had previously provided a detailed analysis of the human rights implications of Covid-19 emergency measures – and what principles are important to consider. It added, the government should consider its analysis and take requisite measures.
Meanwhile, the office of the UN human rights Commissioner, raising “serious concerns” about Australia's Morrison government’s ban on Australians returning from India, and the severe penalties attached to breaches, said the measure is "Inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations.”
The official, Rupert Colville, questioning the controversial temporary measure, which can attract maximum penalties of five years’ imprisonment or $66,600, said, “We have serious concerns about whether the Biosecurity Determination -- and the severe penalties which can be imposed for its breach -- meets Australia’s human rights obligations.”
In particular, article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is binding on Australia, provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country, nhe said.

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