The Australian authorities captured 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers as they were attempting to reach Australian soil. For the moment, the authorities decided to keep the passengers on board while they are working towards solving the case. After mounting criticism overwhelmed the Australian immigration authorities, they decided to give the asylum seekers a three day notice to depart back to Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital. The whereabouts of the ship are unknown to the general public. The U.S. face similar problems, illegal migrants from Central America are provoking the limits of the immigration system.
Right now, the passengers are trapped in a fierce political battle between the conservatives and the humanitarians, according to Heraldsun Australia. The main problem is how the asylum seekers are portrayed. There is a difference between ‘genuine asylum seekers’ and economic migrants in the discourse. How could we then justly assess the situation for the people in need? The economical context differs by country and poverty is present in Australia as well as everywhere else. The asylum seekers are allegedly coming from India, where they are not under the immediate threat they would be in Sri Lanka. The chronological closeness to death or torture prevails in the minds and actions of Australian politicians, as for most politicians around the globe.
Will the Sri Lankan asylum seekers be moved on soil?
“We will of course abide by our undertakings to the court and we await the outcome, but the Australian Government has made it clear from the outset that we intend to disrupt the people smuggling trades,” Julie Bishop, the Australian Foreign Minister declared, ABC Australia posted.
Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe clearly stated that the passengers will not be accepted by Sri Lanka, because they allegedly departed from an Indian port. The Australian Human Rights Commission declared that probably all Sri Lankan asylum seekers will be placed on soil for case processing.
The human rights representative brings a core principle into discussion. According to the Refugee Convention from 1951, states must comply with the principle of ‘non-refoulement’, that is not to refuse a refugee without a hearing. Australia will be supervised by a UN committee to determine if the principle has been breached.
On Monday, another group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers had a hearing at a Melbourne court, out of which 27 were returned to their country of origin.