There is always a solution.
The Australian govt approved a bill to transfer asylum-seekers to
offshore processing centers in a bid to curtail undocumented
immigration. Critics branded the bill as racist, and a grave violation
of the country’s human rights obligations.
The legislation, pushed through by MPs in the Australian parliament’s
lower house, aims to open asylum detention centers on Papua New Guinea
and the Pacific island of Nauru.
The measures are geared to
curbing human trafficking and promote legal immigration, the government
said. According to the new bill, asylum-seekers caught making the
perilous journey to Australia by boat will be intercepted and taken to
the Pacific island camps for processing.
Over 150 asylum-seekers were estimated to have drowned in boats that
have capsized during the crossing to Australia during the month of June.
of the bill criticized it as a violation of human rights. Australian
Labor MP Melissa Park condemned the legislation as “the lower end of what we are capable of as a nation.”
are strong concerns about the devastating consequences, including
severe mental health issues of detention of asylum seekers for
indeterminate periods on Nauru and Manus Island," she said in a statement to parliament.
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcom Fraser dismissed the proposal as “racist,” saying it would punish the most vulnerable. “There is no time limit on how long people will be in these detention centers, it's indefinite,” he said in an interview with the National Times.
parliamentary vote came in the wake of a report commissioned by current
Australian PM Gillard, which researched the recent spike in
undocumented immigrants traveling to Australia from Indonesia by boat.
least three boats were reportedly intercepted by Australian authorities
on Tuesday, carrying over 150 people. More than 50 boats carrying over
4,000 asylum-seekers have been detected by officials this year, Reuters
Rehashing an old idea
legislation resurrects the ‘Pacific Solution’ initiative first proposed
by former PM John Howard’s government in 2001. Under the plan,
immigrants would be dispatched to detention centers on Pacific islands
by the Australian Navy, where they were then held for months under high
The program was eventually scrapped in 2008 in the face
of considerable criticism from NGOs, who condemned the Australian
government for failing to meet its pledges under human rights
Former PM Fraser hoped that the new legislation
would be challenged in the High Court, he said. He condemned the Labor
and Liberal parties of “behaving disgracefully and damaging Australia's reputation, not just in our own part of the world, but right around the world.”
bill is expected to pass through the Australian Senate on Thursday with
little opposition. PM Gillard said that processing centers on the
Pacific islands could potentially be reopened in a month.