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The EU and Offshore Asylum Processing: Why Looking to Australia Is Not a Way Forward

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Bala Akal, Ayşe & Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (2021)

​The European Union appears to often look to Australia as a country that has successfully managed to seal its – maritime – borders and control migration. This has been most concretely demonstrated by Denmark’s newly passed legislation, which allows for the relocation of asylum seekers to third countries while their applications are being processed. This raises concerns and expectations that other countries might follow suit. In this policy brief, we show why seeking to emulate the Australian model is not a good idea, and how it would breach a number of fundamental human rights principles upon which the EU is built.

Brief Points

  • Australia has received strong international condemnation due to the severe human rights violations resulting from its off-shore processing.

  • Australia has since remained firm in its claim that it is not liable for the human rights violations taking place in the third country processing centres, as it has no control over the centres.

  • Despite this, policy makers in the EU often refer to the successes of Australia in managing to control its borders.

  • With Denmark exploring options for third country asylum processing, several other EU countries might follow suit.

  • The EU is bound by a range of EU and international legal frameworks that make such practices hard to effectuate without breaching fundamental human rights.