As our local political candidates brag about who's going to be the toughest on asylum seekers, Australia has been heavily embarrassed on the world stage after being found guilty of violating refugee human rights by keeping 46 people locked up for over four years.
Local liberal candidate Melissa Price came to Geraldton this week to talk about how a Liberal government was going to be tougher on asylum seekers and not give them the benefit of the doubt if they didn't have their paperwork.
She expressed disgust at the recent break outs that had occurred at the Yongah Hill Detention Centre at Northam, and heard from concerned residents who were wanting to see measures put in place to stop asylum seekers coming by boat.
Responding to this international embarrassment, she said "This is just another example of why we can’t trust Labor to stop the boats. Australia would not have these issues if the boats did not come and that’s what a Liberal Government will do – stop the boats."
It seems as though our politicians are now caught between a rock and a hard place. They have the unenviable task of passing laws that will deter people from risking their lives by boat to come to Australia, but at the same time need to protect Australia's international good standing by honouring our international treaty obligations.
The UN's Human Rights Committee found that the ongoing detention of the refugees is "cumulatively inflicting serious psychological harm" and in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The 46 refugees in question, mostly Tamils from Sri Lanka, have been locked up for over four years. The Australian government has been ordered to release them, and has been given 180 days to rectify the situation. On top of that it must ensure nothing like this occurs in the future.
Local Greens candidate Ian James said it was disgraceful that this had occurred. "Laws made need to be compliant with our international conventions and agreements, and there is no need for such a lengthy detainment period. Other countries can do it in 31 days, why does our government take so long to make its mind up? What has occurred is a humanitarian atrocity."