Asylum seekers and duty of originating countries


Tress and I watched the Four Corners program last night. It was another one of those asylum seekers story. I wondered aloud, not for the first time, why countries are allowed to mismanage themselves so badly and other countries are expected to pick up the pieces or deal with the fallout.

Perhaps that is what Jesus would have wanted western nations to do – to reach out and help people in need. People who have suffered and now want to move away from these sufferings. But is having a softer policy where “all are welcomed here” approach best suited to help?

Perhaps the next time America “interferes” in domestic issues of a foreign country, one can point to asylum seekers issue as a justification? If leaders of say, Somalia, don’t look after their own backyard and their people leave so that the shores of say Australia, are peppered with rickety boats and dead bodies, can’t Australia say to Somalia that unless it does more, it will come into Somalia and fix it for them?

I remember Ryland v Fletcher from my property law lectures well. Can we not design something in the international community along the principle borne out by the rule in Ryland v Fletcher?

Often we have despotic regimes or warped governments whose policies and laws drive their people away. Those who can leave for another country properly do, but others who can’t, have to do it “illegally”. Their destination countries are then faced with the dilemma of balancing the competing interests of protecting their sovereignty and applying humanitarian assistance. On the rule in Ryland v Fletcher these countries can act against those despotic or warped regimes, no?

For sure the judicial ruling of an English court has no legal application in this context but that principle is intuitively correct to a simple mind like mine. If we speak of an obligation to help asylum seekers, surely we can also consider a right to demand action by the originator of the problem.

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