Monday, July 07, 2014

Australia admits refoulement

Australia has admitted refouling refugees to Sri Lanka:

The Abbott government has confirmed that 41 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who attempted to reach Australia by boat have been handed over to Sri Lankan authorities.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison released a statement on Monday saying that the asylum seekers, whose boat was intercepted in late June, were returned to Sri Lanka yesterday.
Visit: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison will travel to Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

According to Mr Morrison, 37 of the returned asylum seekers were from the Sinhalese majority and four were Tamil Sri Lankan nationals. Only one of the asylum seekers, who was Sinhalese, passed screening to seek asylum but chose to return to Sri Lanka with the other asylum seekers.

Mr Morrison has not commented on the status of another boat of asylum seekers, said to carrying about 150 asylum seekers, which was reportedly intercepted by Australian authorities around a week ago.

The returns come despite Australia accusing Sri Lanka of state-sponsored torture, abuse and mistreatment of citizens.

The last point is significant. Australia knows Sri Lanka is a torture state. They know that these people may be tortured and abused for seeking safety. And they just don't care - anything to keep the Teeming Foreign Horde out.

Sadly, the Refugee Convention does not come with criminal penalties for leaders and governments who violate it in this way. OTOH, there's universal jurisdiction for torture, so if any of these people subsequently have their fingernails pulled out, Scott Morrison can be put in the dock as a co-conspirator.