Scott Morrison has a lot to say about stopping boats carrying asylum seekers in general, but gives the public only bafflegab about the latest boat in particular. Brian Bahnisch has written a comprehensive post over at his blog Climate Plus regarding reports that a boat of Tamil asylum seekers seems to have been handed over to the Sri Lankan navy rather than having their claims assessed.
The Government is refusing to comment on whether the boat even exists.
Daniel Webb, Director of the Human Rights Legal Centre, says that if refugees are returned directly to the place they are fleeing from without their claims being processed there can be no clearer breach of our obligations under the Refugee Convention.
The fact that the boat may be in international waters has no relevance. The idea that the asylum seekers’ claims could be assessed in transit is ludicrous.
Turning boats back to Sri Lanka is completely different to turning them back to Indonesia, which is a transit country and as such not the source of the fear of persecution or worse.
In conjunction with the announcement last week of harsher visa rules for asylum seekers, this news is definitely discouraging for this sailing season’s queue of asylum seekers, but it still won’t stop them from trying (because it isn’t government policies that stops boats sailing during the Wet, it is monsoonal cyclone season(s) that stops the boats for half the year every year). Exactly how many will sail and be turned back in breach of the Refugee Convention we may never know, since Morrison obviously intends for the Australian electorate to simply not be informed about the non-stopped boats.
Featured Image credit: a photo of Scott Morrison on the front bench in Parliament, date and photographer unknown.