“…the Press Council’s guidelines exist because it is legally wrong to describe boat arrivals as “illegals” and concerns about security are tinged by the paranoia around “terrorism” that usurped rational discussion on asylum seekers…

The Press Council suggests journalists should not use “illegal” in reference to boat arrivals in order to achieve fairness as well as plain ol’ factual accuracy… It is perfectly legal to arrive in a country that is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees without the correct visa or even without a passport if you are entering that territory to claim asylum.

One of the facts about refugee movements is that it’s a rush and a nightmare and not “orderly” (people are literally fleeing for their lives) which means that some cannot get the right papers — what if the country that issues the papers is the very authority persecuting them? What if the despotic government they are fleeing from has put them on a watch list to keep them from escaping? What if they were denied nationality and identity because of systematic discrimination and cannot even get a birth certificate, let alone a passport?
The Convention recognises these realities and specifically prohibits a signatory country from punishing people who enter without correct documents…

When the Press Council says the use of the term “illegal” incorrectly implies a level of criminality and wrong-doing, the guidelines are alluding to the propaganda of those who wish to demonise asylum seekers by falsely implying that boat arrivals are bad people who ought to be feared.

In pretending that not-having-papers equates to being “illegal”, it is the politicians, not the “do-gooders”, who are “playing with words” by completely ignoring well-established legal frameworks…

John Howard brought terrorism into the immigration debate over a decade ago and since then the two concepts have been inseparable. The obsession with “border protection against the possible infiltration by terrorists” is mind-numbingly boring now and to be frank I can’t believe anyone would still bother to invoke such tired rhetoric.

But if someone really wanted to get into Australia as a terrorist, presumably with the backing of a highly sophisticated and well-funded network bent on destroying everything Australia cares about like in Homeland, wouldn’t they take a first class plane ticket rather than a 44-day hell-cruise?

Let’s not forget the fact that not one soul who arrived by boat has ever been implicated with any sort of terrorism-related escapade and that we have a security-assessment system so secure that it keeps a widow and her small children locked up forever so that they can never even think about harming us.

Quite honestly, we do not need to spend billions on detention and drones and warships with their guns pointed north locked on the targets of desperate people who are seeking protection.

The idea that we need to be protected against people pleading for help is simply absurd.

…we also have obligations under the Convention to hear the claims of people who enter our territory and apply for asylum. The several countries they perhaps passed through on the way, like Indonesia and Malaysia, are not parties to the Convention and they are not safe.

The idea that people who aren’t waiting in “over-crowded camps” are “illegal” and “queue jumping” is peddled by people “playing with words” who have no respect for facts.

People being persecuted but cannot get to a UNHCR-supported camp have no way to find a “queue”…”

For full, original text, visit: http://www.watoday.com.au/comment/illegal-label-is-legally-wrong-20130416-2hxp1.html#ixzz2RldNFYpm

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