The first group of asylum seekers to be deported from Australia to Malaysia has arrived on Christmas Island, awaiting the next leg of their journey in search of safety and security.
The federal government’s so-called “Malaysia solution” looks like decisive action, but it’s abhorrent from a human rights perspective, and at odds with a balanced Christian view of justice and compassion.
The policy will send a message to prospective asylum seekers and people traffickers, but it is simply the wrong thing to do. Malaysia has not signed the UN Refugee Convention; there are significant new financial and other costs for Australia; and Malaysia’s status as an Islamic Republic raises questions about our commitment to assist those fleeing religious persecution in their homeland.
But the worst aspect of the Malaysia solution is that we are now responsible for sending 19 children, 14 of them unaccompanied minors, to Malaysia – not to a detention facility, but apparently out in the community where an uncertain fate awaits them.
This is not an action of a civilized, progressive democracy. Immigration policy is always a challenge, but Immigration Minister Chris Bowen must find a better alternative to the Malaysia solution before the worst happens.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 7 August 2011.