Sovereign Borders: Detected, Intercepted and Removed 5l - By hook or by crook: 'enhanced screening'


‘Enhanced Screening’: Criminalising Asylum Seekers and Facilitating Refoulement

[imagecaption] Performance protest outside Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre, Northam, 2014. Photo: Zebedee Parkes.  [/imagecaption]


The practice of Enhanced Screening was approved on 27 October 2012 by Chris Bowen, former Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. It primarily targeted Sri Lankan boat arrivals after the end of the war in that country. A year after its implementation, Enhanced Screening had resulted in the return of over 1200 Sri Lankan refugees, many of whom have been since imprisoned or persecuted upon their return to Sri Lanka.

In July 2014, documents published by The Guardian showed that 3,529 enhanced screening interviews were held between October 2012 and November 2013. Of those detainees subjected to Enhanced Screening, 99.3% listed  ‘Sri Lankan’ as their nationality. Many of those returned faced arbitrary arrest, persecution, police brutality, and torture.

On 20 March 2015, Australian navy vessels intercepted 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers at sea. Their interception was followed by an Enhanced Screening process by which all passengers were returned to Vietnam in less than a month. In July 2015, another boat, also carrying 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers, was intercepted at sea. This time, the process of Enhanced Screening only lasted for four days before the passengers were sent back to Vietnam by plane. Despite assurances provided by the Vietnamese government, some passengers were charged and imprisoned upon their return. Among them were Loan and Lua who again fled Vietnam in 2017 and were subsequently granted refugee status by the UNHCR in Indonesia.



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