People keep asking me if ‘boat people’ are illegal. Let’s settle this. They’re NOT. This is just a very quick post outlining why. For more information about all of this stuff, I recommend you read my full refugee post…
They break no laws
For an act to be illegal, it must break a law. ‘Boat people’ break no laws. That’s why none of the people who call them illegals are able to point to a law they break.
And they’re just exercising their fundamental human rights
Furthermore, not only is it NOT illegal, international law specifically says it’s LEGAL. Everyone has a fundamental human right to seek asylum (under Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
But Australia is breaking the law
Ironically, it’s Australia that’s breaking the law, not the asylum seekers. Australia is bound by international law to assess asylum claims from people who come to our shores (under the Refugee Convention), and to protect them if they’re found to be genuine refugees. In turning boats back, arbitrarily detaining asylum seekers in order to deter others, and refusing to process asylum claims, we’re breaching that Convention. We’re also breaching other international laws:
- International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR)
- International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- Australia’s Criminal Code (Commonwealth)
All Australians need to know this information. If more of us knew it, far fewer of us would be so willing to back the government’s inhumane asylum seeker policy. So please share with your friends and colleagues by hitting any of the share buttons below.