Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Pacific Solution is illegal

In 2001, in the wake of the Tampa Affair, the racist Australian government hit on a simple solution to its refugee "problem": they excised all their offshore islands from Australia's "migration zone", denying anyone who arrived in them illegally the right to apply for permanent refugee status or to have decisions about them reviewed by the courts.

Today, Australia's High Court unanimously ruled that that was unlawful. The entire process is a violation of natural justice and basic principles of judicial oversight. The fact that it applied only to those who arrived by boat - a method which produces bad publicity for the government - rather than the much larger number who arrive quietly by plane simply underlines this.

Its great news, and a victory for the rule of law in Australia, not to mention for common decency. The question is whether Australia's politicians will accept it, or whether they will continue to indecently pander to racists.

There's some interesting background on the case by David Marr in the Sydney Morning Herald here.