Urgency on Offshore Situation

Urgency on Offshore Situation: Friends, recent events on Manus Island stand-off have demonstrated the government's lack of political will to solve the offshore refugee issues. The government's decision last week to suspend the sittings of House of Representative has been another point in this case. We know that the Senate had instructed -- thanks to the Greens -- the government to implement certain NZ resettlement transfers for some refugees. The government suspending the House of Representatives may have thwarted the possibility for a similar motion to be passed by Australian Parliament. The executive government manipulating procedures of Australian parliament in this ways, specifically to cause detriment to the cause of offshore asylum-seekers has been noted. Whilst we must continue to condemn the government for such a mean conduct, we must also aware the extra-ordinary situation in which the refugees, the public and government itself are now being in.


The way in which the Commonwealth Government of Australia has been treating these asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru for the last four years can only be described as the enslavement/slavery. This is because the Australian Government is controlling asylum-seeking person(s) as the "property" it owned. At the same time, the government is colluding with detention companies and have been making monetary profits. This is the most complex and sophisticated scheme of exploitation on vulnerable human beings, which has been orchestrated at the highest levels of Commonwealth Government of Australia.

Historically speaking, the world hasn't seen any large scale enslavement of persons for more than half century. We have, of course, seen cases of enslavement in the pockets of military conflicts, such as in Former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone. Those enslavement crimes were taken place in an environment of general lawlessness, the crimes being committed by military commanders or warlords. However, the world has not seen such enslavement in democratic societies, especially, that is initiated and protected by elected parliamentarians. That is something very unique about Australia's enslavement case.

There has been the domestic legal precedent, interestingly, for consideration of slavery in Australia. In 2008, the Australian HREOC had intervened on a slavery case involving a brothel owner who had detained and exploited alien girls as 'sex-slaves'. Case of "The Queen vs Tang", as it may be known to Australian legal community, does give the directions on Australian domestic law on enslavement. That might explain why the government, in recent periods, has been exceptionally hostile to HREOC, which has the statutory authority to address the conformity of international laws vs. local laws. Hypothetically, if current enslavement was to have been perpetrated only by the private & corporate individuals -- I am certain -- Australia would have adequate laws to deal with it.

HREOC High Court Intervention on 2008

20080501 HREOC Tang Slavery by tripwires90 on Scribd


There are two principal issues regarding with the offshore detention situation. The first issue is the humanitarian and human rights one, that called for international intervention. Firstly, regarding with the humanitarian concerns of asylum-seekers enslaved for four years on Manus Island and Nauru, we must call for intervention by the independent humanitarian organizations, particularly the International [MINUS Australia!] Committee of Red Cross. The Medicins San Frontiers is also another good organization. As of 24th-Nov-2017, the 300 men holding out at the former detention center on Manus Island have been forcefully removed, and there are signs that authorities staging crackdown on protest leaders. Latest unconfirmed reports indicate that these men had been dumped, somewhere that has no accommodation. We must ask the UN, the PNG & Naurian governments to authorize for urgent humanitarian intervention.

Secondly, the caseload of asylum-application for those on Nauru and Manus should be re-assessed and approved by the Australian Courts. For the assessment of applications, it has been demonstrated over a long period that the government and our political leaders are no longer able to make rational decision on this. These asylum-applicants -- all of them -- are Australia's responsibility. We should make a special request to ICRC to provide an independent legal team, just to bring the cases before Australian Courts. This is clearly human rights issue that require international intervention. We should ask for authorizing such 'legal intervention' by the UN Human Rights Committee and the Security Council.


The second main issue is in dealing with Australian government's criminal enslavement of asylum-seekers. I think ICC is the only competent organization to deal with the crime against humanity taking place on international settings. The crime against humanity is a special type of political crime and the perpetrators, usually, are those who have governmental authority. Prosecution of the perpetrators for such crimes will be no small task, and cannot be done in matter of months or even years. In recent history, i.e. before the advent of ICC, the United Nations had to set up special international tribunals, such as in Former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda, in order to deal with the crime against humanity. The prosecution would take time, even the evidence against the perpetrators has already been mounted. It is time for Australia's human rights movement to think about a sustainable and long-term plans to engage in the ICC campaign.


It is important to note the current LNP leadership has maintain its intransigence position regarding with offshore refugees, regardless of mounting public pressures. Lacking a meaningful leadership, the LNP government always sets its priority on short-term, superficial public relation exercises, never on to solving substantive issues re: refugees. Unfortunately, the situation now has drifted further into the dangerous territory. The LNP government can no longer has any incentives even if everything get fixed re: offshore refugees. The damage had already been done.

-- U Ne Oo, NetIPR.