Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

08 Feb 2017, 03:00 PM
Chapters 5 › Unit 5: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions


Read this article and share your views with colleagues. Is the Australian "Pacific solution" against human rights? What do you think of Nauru and the other "prison islands"?

As always, you can share your view by writing in your own journal, but also commenting on what others have written.

Australia's Pacific Solution and its prison islands


The Pacific Solution is the name of Australia's policy of sending asylum seekers to processing centers on small islands in the Pacific, where they are detained for long periods of time while awaiting their cases to be evaluated, rather than allowing them to land on Australian shores. The policy was officially in place from 2001-2007, and it has been criticized for putting mostly successful asylum seekers in prison-like conditions that are in violation of international human rights norms. While the policy has not been officially revived in its entirety, since 2008, some of the dentention centers on these islands (e.g. Christmas Island and Tasmania, Papua New Guinea, currently) have been re-opened and expanded.

Ironically, these policies only target asylum seekers arriving by boat. The majority (76%) of asylum seekers in Australia arrive by air, but this group is allowed to stay in Australia while they're cases are being processed--all of which points to the political exploitation of "boat people", which politicians have been using to drum up votes while playing on the public's misinformed views of migration numbers.

The policy of sending asylume seekers to these detention centers has received criticism from human rights groups who claim that detainees face, among other things:

Pressure to return to home countries and lengthy delays in refugee processing;
Mental health problems linked to prolonged and indefinite detention;
Arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and refugees in the police lock-up and prison;
Restrictions on refugees’ freedom of movement and work rights;
Assault of a refugee by alleged authorities in Lorengau town; and
Mistreatment of gay asylum seekers by other detainees.

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