In 1933 the German cruise liner Veracruz was heading for Mexico. On board were Jewish passengers who wanted to escape persecution in Nazi Germany. Mexico did not take the refugees and no other country either. The USA refused them entry too.
The ship had to return to Germany and the Jewish passengers later ended up in a concentration camp. How many survived, I have no idea. I don’t think any of them.
The incident lead to the establishment of The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR) in 1951 was made into an acclaimed film in 1965 .
The gist of the matter is, that countries who signed the convention must give a refugee protection from prosecution. A person, that has a well founded fear of prosecution can not be send back to the country where the prosecution took place. Australia is such a signature country.
Up to last year Australia has taken refugees in and .granted them protection. Not any more. The new Liberal (what a Orwellian misnomer) Government. Has a policy called “Stop the Boats” nominal to avoid drownings on the sea and to secure our borders.
The policy was developed to secure the votes in the Western Suburbs of Sydney where a sizeable proportion of the voters is anti-immigration, especially anti-Muslim. The “avoidance of death at sea” argument is dishonest at the least.
I’m not a journalist, nor am I a lawyer but the legal situation is being much better explained in an article of the Sydney Morning Herald by the eminent law Professor Jane McAdam.
Now, out there, somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, in a sheer act of piracy, the Australian Government has instructed our navy to stop a boat with 153 refugees from Sri Lanka and they are preparing to hand them over to the Sri Lanka Navy.
A group of lawyers acting on behalf of the refugees, among them women and children, went to the High Court of Australia to stop the Government from just doing that. Last week they handed over a boat with 41 refugees and according to Sri Lanka Police those refugees are facing now criminal prosecution for leaving the country illegally.
The High Court of Australia issued an injunction not to do anything till 4:0 pm today. The court will sit today at 2:0 pm in Melbourne to hear arguments. The nation is holding its breath.
Not so the convention busting inclined government of Australia who denies even the existence of the boat. For “operational reasons” they say.