Friday, April 01, 2011

Asylum seekers in Australia - regional framework begins to take shape

VoA reports "The Asia-Pacific region has become the first to produce a framework agreement to combat human trafficking. Member nations agreed to share responsibility for the regional problem and showed some support for a controversial proposal by the Australian government during a Bali Process meeting.

Thirty-two nations in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to take a regional approach to human trafficking and people smuggling during the fourth Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. While the framework is non-binding, it is the world’s first such agreement.

The framework draws up the way in which nations should deal with people smugglers, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and trafficking victims. The nations agreed that treatment of all parties should promote human life and dignity and reflect the principles of burden-sharing.

The Asia-Pacific region hosts 3.9-million refugees, according to the United nations, and includes source, transitional and destination nations for asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and trafficked people. Pakistan hosts 1.7-million refugees, Iran hosts more than one million, and around 150,000 refugees are residing in Thailand."

This blog has advocated a regional approach to asylum seeker processing for many years. It is encouraging to read the communique to emerge from the Bali process. We may not get an all-encompassing outcome that includes a regional processing centre, but it is important that regional players have an interest in a sensible framework that benefits all, including, most importantly, the refugees themselves. The current desperate default that leads refugees toward people smugglers is a lose lose that diminishes us all. Our common humanity demands a humane approach, that addresses regional security concerns while managing refugee claims and people movement effectively, and that precludes recruiting small states such as Nauru, desperate for foreign capital, into low rent deals with low rent politicians.

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