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GLAN teams up with Forensic Architecture to examine migrant push-backs by the Australian navy

MA students at Goldsmiths' Centre for Research Architecture presenting their findings

GLAN is teaming up with Goldsmiths University’s Centre for Research Architecture and Forensic Architecture to map, visualise and investigate the Australian practice of push-backs of asylum-seeker boats.

On 13 February 2017, in collaboration with the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic, GLAN submitted a communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor that focused on the abuse of asylum seekers’ rights in offshore detention facilities run by Australia, in the territories of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. It concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that Australian agents have committed crimes against humanity of particular gravity through the detention of asylum seekers in offshore facilities, and therefore calls upon the ICC prosecutor to launch an investigation regarding the situation.

The communication, and the original research towards it, focused primarily on detention conditions rather than on an analysis of how the Australian Navy delivers asylum seekers to detention centres, or on how they are pushed back to the territory of other states, such as Indonesia. This is an important part of Australian immigration policy and a detailed factual account will be crucial in further establishing violations of the rule of non-refoulement, and potentially the crime of deportation under international criminal law. Researching and establishing the facts will be crucial in further addressing the legality of Australia’s immigration policy before and beyond the camps.

To fill this gap, GLAN has teamed with Forensic Architecture (FA) with the plan to work towards a second supplementary report, which will address the entire trajectory from interception at sea to deportation or detention. This report will focus on a visual reconstruction of several pushback operations, which constituted particularly serious human rights abuses. This is a 'Live Project' with the students from the MA in Research Architecture combining research and clinical education. Its aim is to identify and conduct exploratory investigations in an effort to support GLAN’s ongoing work on migrant abuses and international criminal law. The visualisation and legal analysis of Australian pushbacks will further allow us to research similar practices elsewhere, as in the Mediterranean sea.

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