Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The problem with Nauru

Now that Timor has said they don't want Australia's refugees, John Key has joined the Australian opposition in backing Nauru as a solution. But there's a problem: Nauru doesn't have a functioning government at the moment, and certainly not one with any democratic mandate to negotiate. But more importantly, it is also not a party to the Refugee Convention, meaning that any attempt to refoul refugees there will effectively be placing them outside the protection of international law. Which is not something a decent country with an interest in strengthening international law should even contemplate.

This is an immoral policy, based on a racist fantasy, and aimed squarely at depriving refugees of the protection of international law. We should have no part of it whatsoever. If Australia wants to regress back to the racism of John Howard, then we can't do much about it - but we certainly shouldn't be joining them.