The Commission has endeavoured to identify options for responding to flight by sea which are consistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations.
In publishing this paper, the Commission is seeking to make a positive contribution to this difficult policy area. We have sought to provide the framework for an alternative policy response, rather than an exhaustive overview of all relevant measures or a detailed plan for implementation. The policy options set out in this paper are offered so that they can be debated, refined and, if they are deemed fit for purpose, implemented.
The Commission also acknowledges that the options put forward in this report could benefit from further policy development and economic analysis prior to implementation. Careful analysis will need to be undertaken of the likely flow-on effects of expanding the opportunities for safe entry in Australia and altering some of the Government’s foreign policy strategies in the ways that are set out in this paper. Further research, consultation and planning would also be required to tailor these measures to conditions in different countries, and to the needs of particular groups.
This paper sets out some alternative policy approaches that aim to protect human rights while also achieving the overall policy objective of preventing dangerous journeys by sea. The Commission is confident that the options proposed in this paper are compliant with Australia’s international human rights law obligations.
This paper does not specifically address the human rights issues arising from other policy measures aimed at deterring flight by sea, such as boat turn-backs and Temporary Protection Visas. However, the Commission considers that the rights-based options proposed in this paper could also be considered as alternatives to these policies.
This paper also does not address the situation of the approximately 30,000 people seeking asylum who are currently in Australia awaiting processing of their claims. The human rights implications of policies affecting these asylum seekers have been considered in other Commission publications.