Monday, February 24, 2014

Looking for another dumping ground

Now that Nauru and Papua New Guinea are turning toxic, Australia is looking for another dumping ground for its refugees: Cambodia:

The Abbott government wants to send some asylum seekers to Cambodia, at a time when the country's strongman prime minister, Hun Sen, is overseeing a brutal crackdown on dissent in one of south-east Asia's poorest nations.

Facing growing opposition after decades of authoritarian rule, Hun Sen last month authorised a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and striking garment workers that left five people dead and dozens injured.


If an agreement is reached with Australia, asylum seekers would arrive in a country that has no social welfare and where 20 per cent of the population live in poverty and 40 per cent of children under the age of five are malnourished, according to the World Bank.

Given its desire for secrecy and image control in its current gulags, the Australian government probably regards Cambodia's political repression as a feature rather than a problem - it will make it that much easier to keep the gulags out of sight and out of mind of the Australian public. But civilised countries don't dump their refugees in repressive hellholes to enable their mistreatment - they deal with them humanely, according to international law, and within their legal jurisdiction so there are full appeal rights and judicial oversight.