Bribing officials. Relaying and returning migrants to poor countries without adequate scrutiny or screening. Closing borders. Setting up camps with appalling conditions. Barbed wire and armed guards. Europe now faces the most profound test on the refugee crisis so far: to persist in processing arrivals within its borders, or return them with indifference into unsafe territories.
This is the Australian model of border control writ large. It enlists and politicises defence forces and border protection behind a veil of military grade secrey. It shifts the burden of processing asylum seekers and refugees from wealthier states to poorer ones. It effectively suspends the application of the Refugee Convention and does a good bit of demonising of refugees along the way.
In October last year, before an audience attending the Margaret Thatcher gala dinner, the sniping and aggressive former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott warned European leaders that embracing his own “turn back the boats” policy was essential for continental stability and the protection of European civilisation. “The only way to stop people by trying to gain entry is firmly and unambiguously to deny it.”
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