The Australian government has passed legislation, known as the ‘Pacific solution’, that will see asylum seekers transferred to offshore prisons on remote Pacific islands….Sorry, I meant, ‘immigration processing centres’.
The measures are supposedly designed to ‘stop human trafficking’, and, ‘promote legal immigration’. Any asylum seekers attempting to gain entry to Australia by boat will now be intercepted, and immediately transferred to one of the offshore prisons.
Within the legislation – there is no limit on the length of time that people can be detained on the islands (including children).
Despite government claims that prisoners would not spend an indefinite period of time on the islands, the Australian immigration minister Chris Bowen let the cat out of the bag when he said that:
“The government hopes that offshore processing will make asylum-seekers think twice about paying people-smugglers to bring them to Australia, knowing they could spend years waiting on a Pacific island before being resettled.”
The bill was originally conceived in 2001, but the programme was scrapped in 2008 due to pressure from human rights organisations.
Only two MP’s opposed the bill, an independent, and a member of the Green Party.
There is expected to be a three to six month gap between the new legislation coming into force and the prisons being operational. Anyone attempting to gain entry to Australia during this period will be housed in floating prison barges.
A camp on Nauru Island is being described as a ‘tent city’. All prisoners will be expected to live in tents, use buckets for showers, use buckets for toilets, and will be expected to ‘slop out’.