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Disembarking to danger: How Australia’s airport asylum policies risk returning refugees to harm

4 November 2020
1.00pm – 2.00pm AEDT
This event has ended


Both sides of politics defend Australia’s boat policies on the basis of keeping people from taking dangerous journeys, but the airport refugee screening process reveals a more complex reality.

Asylum seekers are currently being turned away at Australian airports and sent back to countries where they may be at risk of serious harm, after being interviewed behind closed doors and without access to lawyers.

How did this happen? How does it work? Is it legal? And does COVID-19 offer Australia the opportunity to fashion a fairer, better airport asylum process for those who can safely fly? 

This free online panel discussion was held on Wednesday 4 November, 1pm-2pm with Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Kristina Keneally, the Kaldor Centre’s Regina Jefferies, co-author of our policy brief on this process, and ‘Sultan’, who experienced it first-hand when he and his partner fled Saudi Arabia’s punishments for their gay relationship.

The discussion was led by Human Rights Watch researcher Sophie McNeill, the author of We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know and a former investigative journalist at ABC’s Four Corners who has covered the consequences of this policy. 

Watch some of Sultan’s story in this short video, and delve into the full policy brief, ‘Assessing Protection Claims at Airports: Developing procedures to meet international and domestic obligations’, co-authored by Regina Jefferies (Kaldor Centre), Daniel Ghezelbash (Macquarie Law School), and Asher Hirsch (Refugee Council of Australia/Monash University).