Australia to post expulsions on YouTube in bid to deter refugees

There are 54 of them, and they include four women and a young boy. They say they are from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Little more is known about them, but they are about to become famous; soon after arriving in Australia, these asylum-seekers will be filmed being expelled and the footage posted online.

Intercepted in the Indian Ocean last Sunday, the group – currently being escorted to Christmas Island, the Australian staging-post – will be the first people sent to Malaysia under a controversial swap. If they try to resist, there could be ugly scenes. Police have been authorised to use force to make sure they board the plane to Kuala Lumpur and riot officers have been training daily in a jungle clearing on Christmas Island.

Under a deal finalised last week, Australia will dispatch 800 asylum-seekers to Malaysia for processing. In exchange, it will take 4,000 refugees currently in Malaysia awaiting resettlement. The aim of Australia's Labor government is to show voters that it is tough on boat people – as tough as the conservative opposition – and to deter them from making the often perilous journey. Hence the plan to film the unfortunate 54 as they land on Christmas Island, board the plane to Malaysia and arrive in camps in Kuala Lumpur for processing. The footage will be posted on the video-sharing website YouTube and the social-network site Facebook, with asylum-seekers' faces pixelated.

The Malaysia Solution, as it is being called – following on from the Pacific Solution of the former conservative prime minister, John Howard, which saw asylum-seekers sent to remote Pacific islands – has been condemned by human-rights organisations. Kuala Lumpur has not signed the UN refugee convention and Malaysia has a record of mistreating refugees.

Ric Towle, the representative in Australia of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told The Australian this week that it was "too early to say" whether asylum-seekers would be properly protected in Malaysia.

Julia Gillard, Australia's most unpopular Prime Minister in decades, is pressing ahead with the plan despite the fact that the refugee problem is, on a global scale, tiny. Less than half of 1 per cent of the world's asylum-seekers reach Australia and the numbers are dropping. More than 6,500 people came by boat last year; by mid-April this year fewer than 1,000 had arrived.

Most asylum-seekers pay people smugglers to transport them to Christmas Island, after flying to Malaysia or Indonesia. An Immigration Department spokesman said that footage of the 54 being expelled "will be a very potent message that demonstrates the futility of engaging with the people smugglers... risking your life at sea, only to be put on a plane to be flown back to Malaysia".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral