The Australian government says that the asylum seekers who attempt to illegally reach Australia by boat or plane will no longer receive free advice on immigration.
The plan, which was announced by Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on Monday, is expected to save AUD 100 million over four years.
“From today, people who arrived illegally by boat, as well as illegally by air, will no longer receive taxpayer-funded immigration advice and assistance,” Morrison said.
“Australia’s protection obligations do not extend to providing free immigration advice and assistance to those who arrived in Australia illegally,” he added.
The Australian government has adopted harsh policies regarding the asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia through illegal ways over the past few years. The asylum seekers are sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru for processing and will not be resettled in Australia.
Canberra also implemented a military-led program to stop the boats carrying asylum seeker at sea.
Morrison also said that the cuts would not prevent asylum seekers from having access to legal aid and that those who wished to provide immigration advice to the asylum seekers pro bono were free to do so.
Human Rights Watch criticized Australia in its annual World Report in January, saying that that Canberra has prioritized domestic politics over international obligations toward asylum seekers, who are being directed to a third country under its “draconian new policies.”
Australia has become a desired destination for Asian immigrants seeking a better life. However, over the years, hundreds of them have lost their lives in boat-related incidents as overcrowded vessels capsized in rough waters.
Published: Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:41AM GMT