Australia will take 4000 processed ‘legitimate’ refugees and in exchange Malaysia will take 800 boat people. The theory is to discourage all those asylum seekers from getting in boats and heading for Australia. Human Rights Watch objects calling Malaysia a “dumping ground.”
From Aljazeera (be sure to see the photo of demonstrators in Malaysia):
Australia and Malaysia have signed a deal to send 800 asylum seekers in Australia to Malaysia in exchange for the resettlement of 4,000 refugees.
The 4,000 refugees are to be resettled in Australia over a four year period, with that country bearing the cost of their transfer and settlement.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s interior minister, and Chris Bowen, Australia’s immigration minister, formally signed the deal at a Kuala Lumpur hotel on Monday.
The 800 asylum seekers sent to Malaysia will be placed in a “holding centre” for six week before being allowed into the community, Hussein said.
From midnight on Monday, the next 800 asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat will not be processed there, but will be transferred to Malaysia, Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister said.
The government said they would receive no preferential treatment in the processing of their claims or arrangements for resettlement.
Ahead of the signing, Brendan O’Connor, Australian’s interior minister, said the deal represents “an historic and innovative approach” to undermining the people-smugglers’ business model.
“We want to treat people fairly,” he told ABC Television, but refused to confirm a report that those shipped to Malaysia would be allowed to work.
However, the deal has drawn criticism because Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees.
“Australia is using Malaysia as a dumping ground for boat people it does not want and in the process walking away from its commitments to follow the 1951 Refugees Convention,” Phil Robertson, the deputy director at the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said.
I’ve mentioned Malaysia a bunch. Here in 2009 we had a report on how badly this Muslim country treats its co-religionists who seek shelter there.