The HRAS Interview Series
Men, Women and Children in Offshore Detention
Graeme McGregor joined Amnesty International Australia in 2013 as the Refugee Campaign Coordinator. After studying Human Rights and International Politics at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, he has spent 10 years working voluntarily and professionally for Amnesty International and other organisations.
HRAS speaks to Graeme about Australia’s offshore detention centres:
HRAS: What is Amnesty International’s position on Australasia’s refugee situation?
Amnesty International has been campaigning on refugee rights issues in Australia and the South East Asian region for around 20 years. Globally, all of Amnesty’s work is based on human rights law, international and domestic, and we derive our position from that – interpreting it in an honest way and based on its intent.
The flow of people by boat to Australia, using the services of people smugglers or being exploited by people smugglers, is a problem. It is not something that anyone wants to see happening, and ideally it wouldn’t be happening.
We continue to advocate very strongly for refugees and asylum seekers from South East Asia to be offered real routes to safety, effective routes that don’t leave them stranded in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia or Bangladesh for years on end – with no access to schooling for their children, no health care and only able to work illegal or dangerous jobs.
From there, they have very few options but to travel to Australia by boat. A great deal of our work is focused on trying to improve conditions in South East Asia for refugees and asylum seekers to reduce that pressure.