Kochi: What came to light recently in the light of cases of human trafficking in Kerala are tales of pure exploitation of aspirant migrants by misguiding them about Australian immigration laws. There are scores of people who fell victim to this human trafficking through fishing harbours over several years. And then there are stories of those whose request for Australian citizenship was turned down also after venturing and attempts for it.
Ever since the tightening of the country's immigration rules, Australia has been trying to wash off its hands by sending those who arrived through human trafficking to other countries.
The stories of exploitation emerged following reports that a 42-member group who left by boat from Munambam, were victim to human trafficking. Most of the victims were lured into believing that they could get work and nationality in Australia as a country looking for inflow of immigrants. While Australia does give asylum to refugees, that is only for those who face persecution in countries of their origin. Therefore, human trafficking is arranged with passports of such countries, which are obtained by agents who charge hefty fees for the service.
In Australia's ministry of Immigration, a Migration Advice Registration Authority is functioning and there are about 3,000 lawyers appointed in different countries who are conversant with immigration laws and have a registration for the purpose. It is through these designated lawyers that the people who arrive in Australia in search for employment have to complete their formalities. However, rackets who smuggle people into Australia illegally are active, said Rasheed Backer founder of Avis Australia, a recognized agency in the business.
Australia is not a country that receives and grants nationality to any one entering there claiming to be refugees. A Permanent Residency visa is issued after an elaborate process. Citizens of countries in turbulence can enter Australia, and during Labour Party government such people used to enjoy several facilities. Those who so arrive were accommodated in camps and given food and other essentials, and an subsistence allowncne of Australian Dollar 600. In this stage, they were not bound to work, but were free to render services. In the meantime, facts about these asylum seekers and their native countries would be ascertained through lawyers. If it is proven that there is no disturbance in native countries or it is a case of illegal migration, they would be sent back. Those for whom asylum is essential, would be granted permit to stay, and would be entitled to citizenship after four years.
That is all history now. Things changed with the assumption of office by the Liberal government three years ago. Now, even those who arrive by boats are sent to open air camps in neighbouring island countrires. It will take four to five years to complete the procedures. Even if it is established that they are genuine refugees, they will be sent to such countries with whom Australia has reached pacts. And life in those countries will be miserable. For this reason, over the last three years Australia has not witnessed any arrival of 'boat people'.
According to Kottayam native Joseph Mathew, who works in Australia as psychologist told Madhyamam that in the current situation, due the extreme hardships that migrants have to undergo for years, even those who pass hurdles to obtain citizenship are not able to achieve a comfortable life. And many who suffer mental stress and solitude in camps, approach therapists for treatment.
If after a life of refugees, they get permanent residence permit, they continue to work hard and earn money but most of which has to be spent on legal procedures to bring their family, and thus they get frustrated.