Detention of asylum seekers in the European Union and Australia: What mutual lessons can be learnt?

Date & time
5.30–6.30pm Tuesday 1 October 2013
Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law
Dr Mark Provera


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In the more than 20 years that Australia has mandatorily detained asylum seekers reaching its shores by boat, the European Union has seen the development of its Common European Asylum System amongst its (now 28) Member States – including provisions in relation to detention. Europe, with its overarching human rights instruments, has traditionally been seen as a source of inspiration and guidance but a closer examination reveals that both jurisdictions evidence shared challenges and shortcomings in relation to the detention and treatment of asylum seekers.

In light of international human rights and refugee law, this presentation looks at the laws surrounding the detention and treatment of asylum seekers adopted by both jurisdictions and invites another perspective by looking at the European Union experience. The development of the Common European Asylum System as a regional and supranational response to asylum seekers has the potential to reveal powerful and important insights about what Australia should or should not do in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers. Likewise, as the European Union moves to more prescriptive legislation concerning the detention of asylum seekers, the comparison with Australia’s detention policy, mandatory offshore processing and discussions surrounding a regional solution highlights measures that the European Union should both adopt and avoid.

Dr Mark Provera was awarded his PhD from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where he taught Substantive EU Law and European Migration Law and Citizenship. His doctoral thesis compared the detention of asylum seekers under European Union law and Australian law, and he has presented his research to the UNHCR Brussels office and to non-government organisations in Europe. Later this year, he returns to Europe to present his research, in cooperation with the Centre for European Policy Studies, to EU officials, civil society and international institutions. He is a member of the Ius Commune Research School, the Netherlands, as well as the Maastricht Centre for European Law.


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