Australia’s offshore refugee programme begins to unravel, with global implications

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Was it a ‘crisis of conscience’ that prompted the Australian government to set up a deal with the US to relocate possibly hundreds of refugees from its offshore gulag? Or was it further evidence of abuse of refugees, new legal submissions for the prosecution of government ministers, and widespread protests in cities across Australia?

The deal could be seen as tacit admission by Australia’s government that the offshore detention of refugees has been both a costly and tragic failure. And the disintegration of the programme will no doubt provide lessons to other governments, concerned not to flout international conventions.

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