AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Crimes of exclusion: the Australian state��s responses to unauthorised migrants.

by Michael Grewcock

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Law
Year: 2007
Keywords: Refugees  – Australia; Forced migration; Human rights; Humanitarian law
Record ID: 1031811
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/31445


This thesis provides a criminological perspective on the Australian state��s responses to unauthorised migrants. In particular, it attempts to build on recent criminological literature on state crime by contrasting the alleged deviance of unauthorised migrants with the organised and deviant human rights abuses perpetrated by the Australian state. The main argument of the thesis is that through the systematic alienation, criminalisation and abuse of unauthorised migrants, particularly refugees, the Australian state is engaged in state crime. While this can partly be measured by breaches of international humanitarian law, the acts in question are criminal according to the broader sociological understanding of state crime as ��state organisational deviance involving the violation of human rights��. The thesis develops this argument by locating the phenomena of forced and illicit migration within an increasingly globalised world economy in which the needs for international human migration are confronted by the restrictive migration policies of the dominant Western states. In this context, the Australian state has played a pivotal role in the development of three major Western exclusion zones, which are designed to contain unauthorised migrants in the developing world and are enforced by measures that systematically abuse human rights. The fundamental criminological dynamic of the Australian exclusion zone is its systematic assault on the movements and by definition, the rights, of forced migrants. This operates at a number of levels: unauthorised arrivals are alienated by their lack of legal status; they are denied access to a full refugee determination process; their status as refugees is subordinated to that of the resettled refugee; their experiences are denied and delegitimised through their construction as queue jumpers; they are criminalised through their participation in smuggling enterprises; they are punished and abused through the use of detention, dispersal and forced removal; and they are put at greater personal risk by the measures employed to enforce the zone. The thesis traces the development of this zone from the formation of the white Australia policy through to the Pacific Solution and critically analyses the ways in which current policy draws on and reinforces the exclusionist traditions of Australian nationalism.