By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
CANBERRA, Australia – Australia continues its efforts to thwart the ever-increasing influx of asylum-seekers into the country. Even amid tragedy, Prime Minister Julia Gillard stands firm on her commitment. Today, Australian authorities intercepted another vessel carrying 93 people, all seeking asylum. In addition, Australia is about to forcibly deport the first failed Afghan asylum seeker even amidst fears he will be killed upon returning home.
Ismail Mirza Jan, a 26 year old who fled Afghanistan about 10 years ago, is scheduled to be deported later this week. The Australian Broadcasting Company (“ABC News”) reports that he is currently in a maximum-security location at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney. His asylum claim was rejected, and thus, he will be sent back to Afghanistan.
Jan originally fled Afghanistan in 2001 after the Taliban killed his father. Jan has also failed to obtain asylum in Ireland and Britain. He told ABC News that he is just “in search of a place that [he] can be safe . . . .”
Australia, Afghanistan, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees signed a memorandum understanding in January, according to ABC News. This agreement, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, allows Australia to deport individuals. “Where an Afghan refuses to return voluntarily, this agreement stipulates that the Afghan government will readmit its nationals who are not entitled to protection in Australia,” said Chris Bowen, representative for the Immigration Minister.
Jan fears that he will be killed if he returns to Afghanistan. He told ABC News “If I go there, I will be dead in my country. I have no one there to protect me . . . I have no friends, no family there.”
Immigrants seeking asylum have become a regular happening in Australia. Since the 2010 election, 100 vessels have arrived or been intercepted in Australia; and the problem is getting worse. Perth Now reports that last year, 50 asylum-seekers were found on each vessel on average, and this year, that number has increased to 70 per boat.
Perth Now further reports, “More and more people getting on these boats is only increasing the risk of this journey, which of course concerns all Australians.” The most recent group that was intercepted will be transported to Christmas Island for identification, security, and health screenings.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Jan will be charged $32,782 for his escorted deportation. If he is deported as scheduled this week, he will likely be the first of many rejected Afghan asylum-seekers forcibly sent back to the country they fled, fearing for their lives.
For more information, please visit:
Sydney Morning Herald — Afghan Asylum Seeker to be Forcibly Deported — 15 Nov. 2011
ABC News — Australia to Deport Afghan Asylum Seeker — 14 Nov. 2011
Perth Now — Asylum Boat with 93 on Board Intercepted — 14 Nov. 2011
The Washington Post — Australian PM Says She is Committed to Deterring Asylum Seekers After Fatal Boat Capsizing — 2 Nov. 2011