Inferior Processing or Pragmatic Compromise? Extraterritorial Refugee Status Determinations in Australia and the United States

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In November 1991 the United States established an extraterritorial processing centre for Hatian refugees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This policy of extraterritorial processing was followed by Australia in 2001 when Australia declared that certain Australian territories were no longer a part of Australia’s ‘migration zone’ and asylum seekers who arrived in ‘excised territories’ would be taken to Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to have their refugee application assessed. In December 2007, the Australian government announced that asylum seekers who land in ‘excised territory’ would no longer be processed in Nauru or PNG but would continue to be taken to the ‘excised territory’ of Christmas Island.

My paper will address the human rights implications of extraterritorial processing of refugees. Extraterritorial processing limits the rights of refugees in relation to independent review of their refugee determination and access to legal assistance which may lead to inferior processing of refugee status. Furthermore refugees and asylum seekers are detained in extraterritorial processing centres and have limits placed on their freedom of movement. They have limited rights to healthcare and education and there are particular concerns about the rights of children in extraterritorial centres. My research concerns global justice and the rights of a vulnerable group, particularly at this time when the ‘asylum crisis’ in Europe is leading to calls for the introduction of extraterritorial processing in that region.


Keywords: Guantanamo Bay, Nauru, Christmas Island, Extraterritorial Processing, Asylum, Refugee, Protection
Stream: Immigration, Refugees, Race, Nation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Azadeh Dastyari

Assistant Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Monash University,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I am an Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of law at Monash University and an Associate of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. I am the co-founder of RAVN, the Refugee Advocacy Volunteer Network at the University of Sydney and have worked closely with various NGOs since 1999, including in voluntary capacities with Amnesty International, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Refugee Advocacy and Casework Service. I am the author (with Ben Saul and Mary Crock) of Future Seekers II: Refugees and Irregular Migration published by the Federation Press in 2006.

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