The debate about asylum seekers in Australia is contentious and politically charged, but research commissioned by Amnesty International has found that anti-asylum seekers sentiments are not actually fuelled by racism. Australia pride itself on its strong human rights record and its standing as a good global citizen. However deeper analysis and according to recent situation that how boat people are being treated shows that Australia has failed to fulfill with its international human rights obligations in a number of areas. This is making the things complicating and has tendency towards receptionist and relativist arguments as regard as these international obligations. Especially, much of the focus in Australia and the country’s response to this group of asylum seekers is structured in terms of border protection and deterrence, while not in terms of human rights. Debatably, Debate about asylum seekers in Australia is driven by misinformation and politically charged. Due to the wide spread of wrong information through mass media, Australians views regarding to people who reached or try to reach in their country have changed and these views are leading towards anti asylum seekers sentiments which are not actually powered by racism factor.
The UN refugee convention recognizes that refugees have a right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum with the no matter of how they arrive and whether they hold valid travel or identity documents. But this factor is also considerable that the people without their proper identification and arriving on a large scale can be burden and threat for country in terms of national security. While discussing this hot issue, there is need to know who these asylum seekers are and why they move from one country to another. ‘An asylum seeker is a person who has fled their own country and applied for protection as a refugee. According to the United Nations (UN) Convention relating to the status of refugees, as amend by its 1967 protocol, A Refugee is a person who is outside their own country and is unwilling to return to their own country due to well crushed fear of being suffered because of some certain reasons. Basically these people flee to leave their country for their own safety and cannot return unless the situation that forced them to leave improves.
According to Australian Human Rights Commission’s online publication ‘Asylum seekers and Refugees’ as a party to the refugee convention as well as with regarding to international laws, Australia has some international obligations towards asylum seekers. In considering these obligations, it is the responsibility of the Australia to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia, no matter how they arrive and whether they got visa or not. Meanwhile, under different treaties, Australian government has some obligations to ensure that these boat people’s human rights are respected and protected. These treaties include International covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR), the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR), the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment (CAT) and the convention on the rights of the child (CRC). Because of these treaties, Australia has agreed on various terms and has to make sure that to not return to these people in their own country where their life would be threatened until the fair situation. Australia also has obligations not to return people who are affected and even not to send them to third countries where they would face a real risk of violation of their human rights. So under the light of various laws and treaties, It is clear that the asylum seekers who arrive by boat or any other mean are legal and their human rights should be respected and protected by not only Australia but the other countries too. On the other hand, after considering the various international laws and treaties, every country should accept these people but on to some extent and give they complete protection.
Besides Australian government is concerned, In August 2012, the Australian Government introduced a system of third country processing for asylum seekers who arrive in Australia at an excised offshore place (such as Christmas Island) by boat. In May 2013, the Government made some extension in policy to apply to asylum seekers who arrive by boat anywhere in Australia. Under this system, Asylum seekers who have arrived by boat must be transferred to the third country. Additionally, if these people transferred to third country then their claims of protection will be processed under this country’s law. Reciprocally, if asylum seekers who arrive by boat are allowed by the minister to remain in Australia, then their claims will be processes under Australian law. However, as of June 2013, Australian Government has not yet started processing any claims by asylum seekers, who arrived after 13 August, 2013.
This was the step taken by former government maybe under the pressure of its own people who are Australians. As far as Australians are concerned, it is true that Australians are racist and they won’t people of other countries to come and live in their country. Racism can be seen in clubs and pubs where those Australian see other people with angrily and heatedly. Even though, Racism factor is present in Australia; but still it is a beautiful and safe country. Meanwhile, as far as the Australians views are concerned in regarding to asylum seekers who arrive on boats or any other way to seek asylum, these are illegal and doing something wrong and breaking the rules. In relating to this an human rights commissioned named Amnesty international commissioned its own research because of this highly politicized debate by publishing the news on ABC news’ Asylum seekers debate fuelled by misinformation’. They mentioned in this news regarding to the wrong perception of Australian toward asylum seekers. Particularly media always plays an important role to make and change the views of people. It was the media who presented the shape of asylum seekers differently and in the wrong way. Now this is why Australians perception about boat people is not good at all. In the view of Mr Lewis, A member of Amnesty International about asylum seekers debate in Australian could be different if it was not so politicized. According to Department of immigration and citizenship, Asylum seekers who arrive in by boat make up less than 2 percent of Australia’s annual immigration intake. And with the fact that the majority of asylum seekers who have reached Australia by boat have been found to be genuine refugees. In 2011-2012, 89.6 of the asylum seekers arrived by boat were found to be refugees as compared to 43.7 percent of those who arrived with genuine and valid visa in accordance to (DIAC) statistics.
Additionally, according to the Australian security and intelligence organization, 34,396 visa security assessments in 2010-2011 were refused. The purpose of mentioning these statistics is to show that the people arrive by boat or any other ways are actually not a threat for any country’s national security. These people do take this step not with the happiness but because of various threats in their own country. These are the people who spend a lot of their whole life savings to reach to another country with the hope of to spend better life there. Similarly, who arrive by boat take big risks of their life even in the factor of various some certain things or situations which can lead to certain deaths. Indeed, these asylum seekers arrived by boats are being treating worst by Australian government. According to Sunday Morning Herald, A reputable newspaper in Australia, the number of asylum seekers who have drowned while trying to reach Australia has now passed 1500 which includes many children and women. Lebanese are more in numbers than other countries. In other words, if impact of these boat people may be dangerous in terms of national security threat for Australia but now it is affecting the humanity badly and giving the result of certain innocent deaths. At the end, according to International laws and treaties, Asylum seekers are allowed to move from one country to another and after all the processing of their application if found genuine then their human rights should be protected and respected. In the meanwhile, Australia also has some obligations which it should be fulfilled towards boat people.
Even this fact also is considerable that if a huge number of asylum seekers who want asylum in any country and try to enter in this country on a huge scales with no background information or valid identification, then this can be a real threat for that country’s national security. But no law says that asylum seekers should not be allowed to enter in a country. In Australia, because of misinformation and the way in which the image of asylum seekers had presented, this issue is now going toward in dangerous direction. Racism factor can be considered but the politics and the Australia’s policies towards asylum seekers made this issue worse. People are being treated like animals and because of this Australia’s government attitude, people arrived on boat are dying which includes innocent children and women on different locations whether we talk about Papua New Guinea or Indonesia.
Besides this, in the view of international organizations apt United Nation (UN) committee says, ‘Australia has been found guilty of almost 150 international laws over the indefinite detention of 46 refugees in one of the most damning assessment of human rights in this country’. Consistent with Australia’s treaty obligations, the government has been given 180 days to assure the committee that it has acted on the recommendations and has taken stringent steps to not to similarly violation of laws in future.
Australian Human Rights Commission, Asylum seeker and refugees’ online publication, Viewed 27th Sep 2013.
http://www.humanrights.gov.au/publication/asylum-seeker-and-refugees Australia, Department of immigration and citizenship, (2013), overseas arrivals and departures statistics 2011-2012, ‘settler arrivals’ Table 3, viewed 27th Sep 2013. http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/statistical-info/ocid/? Australia, Department of parliamentary services (2011) asylum seekers and refugees. What are the facts: Janet Philips? http://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/bn/sp/asylumfacts.pdf Kim, S. (2011) Asylum seekers debate fuelled by misinformation. ABC news (online) 9th July http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-09/asylum-seeker-debate-fuelled-by-misinformation/2788256 Fraser, M, (2011) ‘How Australia can solve its asylum seeker problem’ [online] The Sunday morning herald, Viewed 28th Sep 2013. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics-opinion/how-australia-can-solve-its-asylum-seeker-problem-20110624-1gilt.html