Sovereign Borders: Detected, Intercepted and Removed 5i - Pushbacks


Pushbacks in Australia

[imagecaption] Rescue the Rohingya Perth Protest, Boorloo, 2015. Photo: Marziya Mohammedali. [/imagecaption]


Pushbacks by the Australian navy are shrouded in secrecy as part of ‘on water matters’ decreed under Operation Sovereign Borders. Information is only available from asylum seekers who mange to communicate with contacts in Australia, or when official complaints are lodged by other states. According to  statistics compiled by the parliamentary library, a total of 23 boats carrying over 800 people were subject to pushback between December 2013 and June 2018.

One boat that was pushed back by the Australian navy became stranded near West Kupang, Indonesia: ‘One of the police officers who assisted the 16 male asylum seekers off their boat, Farah, at Tablolong beach in West Kupang told Fairfax Media they could have died if no one had found them.’ These potentially fatal push backs stand in contravention of Australia’s obligation, as a country that has ratified the UN Refugee Convention, to accept and process those who enter the country seeking asylum. Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapoteur, has condemned Australia’s push backs as ‘illegal’ and as ‘putting lives at risk.’



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