Australia: Qantas shareholders renew push for airline to refuse forced deportation of asylum seekers

Author: Lisa Martin, The Guardian, Published on: 31 August 2019

"Qantas shareholders renew push for airline to refuse involvement in deportations", 26 August 2019

Qantas is under renewed pressure over the forced deportation of asylum seekers, with an American investment firm joining a proposed shareholder resolution calling on the airline to review its policy and processes.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has teamed up with US–based asset manager Mercy Investment Services to co–file a motion urging the airline to examine its involvement in deportations. The organisation wants Qantas to justify how deportations square with its commitment to the United Nations guiding principles of business and human rights.

Qantas shareholders will consider the motion at the airline's upcoming annual general meeting in late October.

At present, the airline transports people at the request of the home affairs department but critics say many refused refugees have not been properly assessed, in what could be a violation of international law.

Qantas has consistently stated it would not refuse deportations.

"It is not the role of airlines to adjudicate on complex immigration decisions, particularly as information used in determination processes is not publicly available. To do so would undermine the government, the judicial system and their processes," Qantas says.

...The Human Rights Law Centre spokeswoman Keren Adams said Qantas isn't legally obliged to carry out forced deportations and transfers on behalf of the Australian government.

"Airlines have the power to ask Home Affairs for more information about a person being deported before they agree to fly them anywhere," Adams said.

...Virgin Australia also facilitates forced deportations.

...Qantas declined to comment on the shareholder resolution but noted ACCR's resolution at last year's annual general meeting only attracted support from 6.43% of shareholders.

[Companies also mentioned in the report are Mercy Investment Services, Virgin Atlantic, United, Delta, American Airlines, Lufthansa, and  Virgin Australia]

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Related companies: Qantas Airways