The Immigration Minister’s confirmation that a boat load of people has been returned to Vietnam leaves many questions unanswered.

Who was on board? All people have the right to due process to determine their protection needs – what if there were trafficked children or torture victims on that boat?

What was the process for determining whether any of the people on board were seeking asylum? Did any of them have a claim for refugee status? Did they have access to legal advice? Were they interviewed while still at sea?

Without a robust and fair process, Australia is at risk of returning asylum seekers to a place where their lives and freedoms may be threatened. This would violate international law and effectively render Australians accomplices to human rights violations elsewhere.

The policy of secrecy surrounding the interception of boats prompts the question: does the government have something to hide? Why do we as a country have to react this way, leaving so many questions about whether Australia’s response has been legal, fair and proportionate? And what about the example this sets for our ASEAN neighbours?

Statement issued by:

  • Professor Penelope Mathew is the Dean of Griffith Law School
  • Dr Susan Harris-Rimmer is an ARC Future Fellow and an Associate-Professor at Griffith Law School

Media contact:

Deb Marshall, [email protected],0413 156 601