The incident in the MV Tampa refugee situation was a clear international concern. The actions undertaken by the Australian government seemed to be at a critical standpoint since it did not oblige with the international ruling agreements when it comes to refugees and ships in distress. It was very obvious that the MV Tampa was not at a very good condition to further reconstruct its mission to safely manage the refugees. But looking at the principles implemented by Australia may provide another perspective.
In terms of the UDHR’s principal accord to provide universal human rights directives, it is still very possible to let it constitute rules that can be followed by the international community. However, depending on the situation and the decision of the government involved in a case, these rulings may be voided if the sovereignty of the nation is compromised. This clearly was the concern for Australia as it evaluated the refugees in the MV Tampa to be at a level of threat especially in concerns like overloading, sanitation, health issues and possible other secondary intentions like human trafficking and smuggling.
With respect to Australia, it may be more important for the nation to consider its citizen’s human rights than those of the refugees. Of course, not everyone, especially those in the Human Rights paradigm will accept this. But the mere fact that the international community is hounded by nightmares of terrorist acts, severe health pandemic concerns and political dilemmas could just be good grounds for Australia to first protect its citizens than any one else in the world.
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The issues of the MV Tampa have lead to some extent of negative impression in the international community. Some global entities are not truly happy with how the government handled the situation denouncing that it violated the main aspect of universal human rights especially in a case when the victims are in distress. Of course, there are two forms of legal relevance for such a concern on the part of Australia, the domestic and the international law. However, it cannot be denied that Australia needs to first attend to its domestic directives before it can manage to comply with the international rulings (Kampmark, 2002).
Kampmark, B. 2002. Was it legal? The Howard Government’s handling of MV Tampa. The National Forum. Retrieved April 4, 2008 from http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=1588.
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