Australia to post YouTube film to curb people-smuggling

A demonstrator holds a placard outside the venue of the signing ceremony between Malaysia and Australia to swap refugees in Kuala Lumpur on 25 July 2011 Australia recently signed a controversial deal with Malaysia to swap asylum seekers

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The Australian government is to post on YouTube images of so-called boatpeople being turned away and sent to Malaysia, in an effort to deter asylum seekers.

The video will show arrivals at Australia's offshore detention centre on Christmas Island being expelled and boarding aircraft.

Canberra recently signed a deal with Malaysia to accept 800 boatpeople intercepted in Australia.

Asylum seekers remain a politically sensitive issue in Australia.

Australia currently has more than 6,000 asylum seekers in detention, originating from countries including Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

In return for Malaysia accepting the new arrivals by boat, Australia will take 4,000 immigrants who are already registered there over the next four years.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said the move will "smash the business model of people-smugglers".

But human rights groups have criticised Australia over the deal, because Malaysia has not signed the UN Convention on refugees, and the groups say asylum seekers are routinely mistreated there.

'Futile trip'

The footage posted by the Australian government on YouTube will show boatpeople arriving at the country's offshore detention centre in Christmas Island, boarding a plane to Malaysia and then arriving at camps in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Australia asylum

  • Irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) in 2010: 134 boats carrying 6,535 people
  • IMAs up to 19 April 2011: 16 boats carrying 921 people
  • As of 20 April 4,552 IMAs detained on the mainland, 1,748 on Christmas Island

Source: Australian Department of Immigration

It is intended to drive home the point that asylum seekers heading for Australian shores will now end up in Malaysia, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

Previously, the government has used dramatised videos of people in detention or losing their lives at sea to act as a deterrent.

This, however, is the first time that real asylum seekers have been filmed being expelled from Australia - although, for security reasons, their faces will be pixelated, our correspondent says.

The footage will be posted on YouTube in eight languages, targeting Iranians, Afghans, Sri Lankans and Iraqis in particular.

The aim, according to immigration officials, is to demonstrate the futility of risking your life at sea, only to be put on a plane to be flown back to Malaysia.

"We know that people-smugglers tell lies. We know that people-smugglers will be out there saying, 'Look, this won't apply to you'... because they are desperate to make money off desperate people," Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told Australian radio.

"I do think that many people would have access to that sort of social media, and word-of-mouth will spread quickly."

The first boatload of asylum seekers expected to be sent to Malaysia was intercepted on Sunday. They are to be processed on Christmas Island before being sent to Kuala Lumpur by plane.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Of course people want to migrate to a better place with health care and welfare beneifts - who would not? butthe reality is that for this to happen the living standards of thise there already will fall. Basically, I think there are too many people on this planet and one day a catastrpe will sort it out. can we wait that long/

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Where I live every bit of available land is being built on to house our ever increasing population. The roads are heaving and it takes ages to drive anywhere - Infrastructure is creaking and yet no proper controls on UK immigration. We all know Labour kept the doors wide open to keep their voters coming in and the conlibs are too stupid to get a grip on it. Might have to emigrate - Oh the irony.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Funny how UK citizens expect to move abroad how & whenever they feel, but heaven forbid anyone comes here. Ppl have always moved across the globe. That's how our race developed. If ppl contribute to a country's economy (and they invariably do - given that immirgants apparently "take all our jobs") let them come. Australia's measures are backwards, given the space and labour shortages they posess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Finally a country is recognizing, and addressing the problem, while the rest of the world sticks their heads in the sand. Good for Australia!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The numbers need to be put in perspective. Over the year 2010 something like 2% of migrants/asylum seekers came into Australia via boats. A very high % of these were genuine political refugees.

    The focus on boat people is nothing but a shameless political stunt designed to stir people up. And unfortunately appealing to the lowest common denominator works


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