There is a growing public and political outcry over the federal government’s sudden decision to ban Australians from coming home from India. But as everyone from Indian community leaders to human rights leaders, famous cricketers and Coalition MPs calls on the government to rethink the policy, is it legal?
A new examination of the historical record reveals that refugees and persons with lived refugee experience played a far more substantive role in the development of early international refugee law and policy than previously recognised.
Since the introduction of Operation Sovereign Borders in 2013, Australia has pursued a determined policy of intercepting and turning back asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by sea. Whether people are turned back at sea to their country of departure, or taken into Australian custody and then handed back directly to the authorities of that country, these practices have given rise to serious concerns about their compliance with international law.
Five years on from the crisis in the Andaman Sea, it is glaringly evident that those who are compelled to seek safety and dignity through this maritime route face the same tragic combination of inaction and indifference today as was evident in 2015.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a pause in the international resettlement of refugees, as announced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in March. Although resettlement resumed in June, travel restrictions remain in place and resettlement numbers for the year remain extremely low.