Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers – Is Australia Complying With Its International Legal Obligations

  • Lisa Jane Archbold

Abstract

Australia has a number of international legal obligations in relation to asylum seekers and refugees. In the scheme of things, the number of asylum seekers and refugees who attempt to reach Australia by sea without a valid visa is relatively small. Since 2012, Australia has restored its legal framework of processing asylum seekers and refugees who arrive by sea offshore in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. There are a number of concerns with the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at these offshore processing centres, highlighting concerns Australia is not complying with its international legal obligations. The primary justification of the current policies has been that a strong deterrent is required to deter the people-smuggling trade. However, the deterrent justification lacks evidence to support it, and is unable to justify breaches of some of the most fundamental obligations owed to refugees and asylum seekers.

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