Do you believe the government treats asylum seekers and refugee’s ethically considering most of them travel to Australia illegally?
There has been great controversy as to whether to ban asylum seekers from crossing the Australian boarder, do you believe that we should ban them altogether?
From an ethical point Palmer and Mathews (2006) make a valid point in their opening statement that, Excising territories is an ethically irresponsible act, undertaken with the express intention of differentiating asylum seekers as either ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ so they can be granted different visas and subsequently different levels of protection and assistance. Such that this provides an ethical dilemma, attempting to ban refugees diverges away from the realm of making an ethical decision, and more into the legalities of which stance under the law that individual nation states are able to prove adherence to. While I have been mulling over this question the last week or so, a couple of issues are frequently found, in alternating occurrences, to float to the surface. The first is the idea that while it is not illegal to seek asylum, as a result of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified by Australia, and its 1967 Protocol, the means through which individuals frequently travel, particularly in using people traffickers, is.
It is these documents which provide the foundational legal instruments responsible for defining and protecting the rights of refugees, and describe the criteria for the determination of refugee status grants, legal protection, assistance and rights entitlements, and a clarification of the obligations of both refugees and host nations. In focusing on one particular aspect, and this is where the second point returns to surface particularly in Australia and the controversy revolving around detention, Article 14 of the 1948 Universal declaration of human rights which proclaims that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
Think about the wording. It is in the wording of the article section that provides an interesting question. Although these documents set out that refugees have the right to seek asylum, they do not state that states are required to accept these refugees nor do they delineate a time frame within which such a decision must be arrived at.It is likely, in my opinion, that it is this ambiguity in the wording of the law that states fixate on and allows then the stance that they are under no obligation to accept, or provide equivalent lifestyles to those who have been identified in need of asylum or granted refugee status. As such creates this kind of limbo time that is frequently spent in places like internment camps. The problem that this poses becomes both an ethical problem and a legal one. As a signatory to the United Nations convention relating to the status of refugees it becomes a point in contention since prolonged detention is viewed as being contrary to the convention and as a measure of last resort to be used only when national interests are threatened.
While I certainly don’t believe that the decisions carried out by the Australian government relating to the treatment and detainment of refugees is morally ethical, I find myself leaning, almost deontologically bound, toward their stance through the letter of the law.
Palmer, V. & Mathews, J. (2006). Excising Democracy: Ethical Irresponsibility, Refugees and Migration zones. Vol. 25. No 3. Pp. 26-31