Most asylum seekers likely to end up in Aus anyway: Academic
The Australian government's asylum seeker policies are likely to go the way of the Pacific Solution according to a Melbourne academic.
An Australian refugee law academic is predicting a repeat of the Howard-era Pacific Solution a decade ago where most asylum seekers detained offshore in Papua New Guinea and Nauru ended up settling in Australia.
Azadeh Dastyari, from Monash University, says that international law has been breached by Australia's policies and detention centre on PNG's Manus Island, where a 23-year-old asylum seeker was killed in rioting last week.
She told Jamie Tahana that there's not much the asylum seekers can do about the breaches, but there isn't much the Australian and PNG governments can do either.
AZADEH DASTYARI: Unfortunately there's very little in International law that the asylum seekers and refugees can call on to hold Australia to account for its violations of its international agreements - international law just doesn't have much teeth - and because it's happening in a foreign country there's also very little that can be done in the Australian courts.
JAMIE TAHANA: The refugees themselves, these laws have been broken but is there anything they can really do? They were told last Sunday that they will not be resettled in Australia, is that legal?
AD: No, that's completely not legal because if they're not being resettled in Australia and Australia's failing to find a third country to which to resettle them in then they're going to be arbitrarily detained indefinitely and that's definitely illegal. We should remember that Australia made similar claims in the past when it had refugees and asylum seekers in Nauru under the Pacific Solution under the then Howard government. It kept saying that 'No refugees would ever be resettled in Australia,' the truth was that after many, many years of trauma a lot of damaged people were resettled in Australia at great cost to the Australian government that had kept them there for so long. So, my guess is that they will be faced with a similar situation here. It's illegal to keep people in PNG; it's unlikely that it can go on as it is and if there's nowhere to resettle them, no other country accepting them; inevitably, as happened with the Pacific Solution it's likely that they're going to be resettled in Australia - it's just going to be a very expensive exercise in the meantime.
JT: But what of these claims that they could get resettlement in PNG or other Pacific countries or, as we're seeing this morning, Cambodia?
AD: Well, there have been PNG politicians that have come out and said that they don't see it happening. Even though PNG when signing an agreement with then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last year said that they would resettle refugees; they've asked a few questions about whether or not they will resettle refugees after all. It's also not guaranteed that some of our refugees would actually be safe in PNG. For example, people escaping persecution because of their sexuality, if resettled in PNG may face similar issues because homosexuality is an illegal act. Cambodia is similar in some respects [because] it has traditionally been a refugee producing country itself.
JT: So, the likely outcome is these asylum seekers will end up in Australia anyway just at far greater cost?
AD: That's my prediction. Far greater cost not only in monetary terms for Australia but also to the asylum seekers themselves who many have suffered trauma coming to Australia and have suffered trauma in their home countries. This is the reason they flee persecution and the reason they get recognised as being in need of protection. So, we're putting really damaged people in a volatile and further damaging environment and then resettling them when they have really suffered under our policies.
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