Weaponising Exposure 6d - 'Prevention Through Deterrence'


‘Prevention Through Deterrence’

Colourful decorated coffins mounted on a corrugated steel fence at the border. Each coffin marks a year and the number of deaths during that year.

[imagecaption] Memorial coffins on the US-Mexico barrier for those killed crossing the border fence in Tijuana, México, Photo: Tomas Castelazo. [/imagecaption]

‘Mass death and disappearance are the inevitable outcomes of a border enforcement plan that uses the wilderness as a weapon.’ 

Disappeared: How the US Border Enforcement Agencies are fueling a Missing Persons Crisis’ Report


State authorities engineer the deaths and disappearances of people who are seeking asylum or attempting to migrate by literally weaponising the natural environment. Deserts and oceans both have become vast graveyards of the missing.  

In the US, the ‘Prevention Through Deterrence’ policy, not unlike the policies maintained by the Australian government, led to thousands of people perishing in the borderlands due to dehydration, heat-related illness, exposure and other preventable environmental causes. Although ‘deterrence’ policies and the militarisation of borders have consistently failed to stop people from crossing borders, they have succeeded in proliferating border deaths and disappearances by pushing people into the most lethal terrains. This is documented in detail in ‘The Disappeared’ report, produced by La Coalicion de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths.    

In the Australian context, so-called ‘deterrence’ policies make examples of people who have made it to Australia by boat by subjecting them to indefinite detention on remote islands or to regimes of insecurity and harm that include temporary visas. These unnatural, state manufactured conditions have proven to be just as lethal as the terrains that people survived in the course of their journeys.  


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.