Offshore detention: A warning for the UK from Down Under

Guy Aitchison: I have a new article in openDemocracy looking at the UK’s latest scheme to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda for offshore “processing”. The piece draws on my interviews over recent months, as part of this project, with victims of Australia’s failed experiment in offshore detention in the Pacific:

The first 50 asylum-seekers in the UK have now received notice from the Home Office that they face deportation to Rwanda, where they risk being permanently resettled even if officially confirmed as refugees. With a taste for irony reminiscent of a certain Russian leader, British ministers defend this plan for the mass transit of “tens of thousands” of human beings against their will as a “solution” to the problem of human trafficking.

In reality, the Rwanda deal – which promises the East African country an initial £120m to host those who have made ‘illegal’ entry into the UK – borrows from the same semi-colonial playbook as Australia’s recent failed experiment in offshore ‘processing’.

From 2012 onwards, asylum-seekers arriving by boat to Australia were forcibly sent to the small pacific island nation of Nauru and to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, where they were detained indefinitely in squalid and repressive conditions.

Read the full piece at openDemocracy.

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