Rohingya refugees on a boat off the coast of Indonesia in May. Januar, Agence France-Presse.

The Australian model should not be followed

Blog post by François Crépeau
3 September, 2015

The Australian model seems to be the worst possible: deterrence through mass human rights violations. It has “stopped the boats” for now, but this is only because of the relative geographical isolation of Australia. This would not work in Europe, and would also be prohibited by local tribunals, the European Court of Human rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Prohibition pushes migrants deeper into the underground and entrenches the market for smugglers and unscrupulous employers. Mobility solutions offered by States – such as resettlement programmes for refugees directly from transit countries and smart visas for people to come and look for work – allow individuals to enter legally and come forward to register with the authorities. Territorial sovereignty is about controlling the border, and controlling the border is about knowing who enters and who leaves: any mechanism that incentivises people to come forward to the border guard because they have appropriate papers is better than mechanisms that actually will push the migrants to find mobility solutions with smugglers and leave the authorities in the dark as to who enters the territory.

This should be clear by now, but unfortunately politicians in destination or transit countries in the EU do not seem to be able to package this idea in the kind of message they can sell to their electorate for the next election.

To know more about Australia’s migration policies, read the New York Times article ”Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants”.

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