Dr Vasja Badalič1
1Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, almost one million Syrian refugees found shelter in Lebanon. During the first three years of the conflict, Lebanon kept the border open for Syrian asylum seekers, but when their number reached unsustainable levels, the Lebanese authorities gradually embraced a “closed door” policy. In October 2014, the Lebanese authorities approved a new policy on Syrian refugees with the objective of reducing the number of Syrians in Lebanon by limiting cross border movements from Syria and by “encouraging” Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return to their homeland.

This paper focuses on the “closed door” policy in order to examine the practices used by Lebanon to stop, or at least limit, the massive influx of Syrians, and thus prevent them from exercising their right to seek and enjoy asylum in Lebanon. The central part of the paper consists of two sections. The first section examines how Lebanon violated the principle of non-refoulement by employing a range of illegal practices (e.g. border closures, the use of selective criteria for determining which groups of Syrians were not allowed to cross the borders). The second section of the article examines how Lebanon resorted to practices that created circumstances for constructive refoulement of Syrian asylum seekers and refugees (e.g. shutting down the sole authority responsible for processing asylum claims, stripping Syrian refugees of their protection status, and preventing Syrian refugees from obtaining/retaining residency permits).


Vasja Badalič is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia. His primary fields of research are contemporary imperialism (e.g. the impact of the “war on terror” on the civilian population in Afghanistan and Pakistan) and migration (e.g. EU’s migration policy on its external borders). He combines theory with extensive field-work, frequently visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of three single-authored monographs, including The Terror of ‘Enduring Freedom’: War in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Krtina Publishing house, Ljubljana 2013 (in Slovenian only).

Honoured in the Breach: Border Protection and the Australian Government’s Duty of Care

Emeritus Professor Richard Harding
1University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia

As citizens  we all have views on Australia’s border protection policies. But in a democratic society the weight they carry is inherently no greater than those of any other citizen. However, as criminologists we possess an expertise that can be brought to the debate, not with regard to the policy as such (a “given” for these purposes) but as to how that policy is implemented on the ground. Specifically, is the Government meeting its duty of care to detainees, and what standards make up that duty of care?

This question is central to all aspects of detention – imprisonment, juvenile detention, police lock-ups, closed psychiatric wards and immigration detention. Even more crucial is the position of off-shore immigration detention centres, particularly Nauru and Christmas Island, for their very nature is that they are out-of-sight of normal scruitiny with the risk that standards can be breached with impunity.

This paper explores the question of what standards are properly applicable to off-shore detention centres. Relevant standards are identified. Four groups of these standards – clean and decent environment; respectful regime arrangements; mental health care; and processes for handling medical emergencies – are analysed drawing upon numerous sources. These include: Amnesty International reports; UNHCR reports; UN Rapporteur materials; Human Rights Watch observations; evidence to the Senate Inquiry into conditions at immigration detention centres; testimony of detainees; evidence to a Coroner’s inquest; and the class action (Kamasaee v. The Commonwealth) which was settled in 2017 by payment of $70 million in damages.

The conclusion is that the Australian Government, through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, has been in egregious breach of appropriate standards and duty of care obligatioins in its management of off-shore immigration detention centres.


Richard Harding is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Western Australia. At various times he has been Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Foundation Director of the Crime Research Centre at UWA, and a member of trhe Australia Law Reform Commission. He was the inaugural Inspector of Custodial Services in Western Australia (2000-2008).

Since leaving that position he has advised extensively on correction policy and practice, and has been an expert witness in various cases involving prisoner/detainee litigation.

In 2013 he received the Society’s Distinguishewd Criminologist award.

Resisting the ‘structurally embedded border’ in Australia

A/Prof. Leanne Weber1
1Monash University, Clayton, Australia

In Australia, restricted access to essential services such as education and health care is a feature of federal policies aimed at reserving publicly funded resources for citizens, while also encouraging ‘voluntary departures’ of asylum applicants. In this presentation, I report new research findings about acts of resistance to these policies by individuals and agencies providing health, education and support services for asylum seekers. Situating the analysis within prior theorisation about the ‘structurally embedded border’ reveals that opportunities for resistance are inherent within borders themselves, and arise from their performative and contested nature. Efforts to “fill gaps” in service provision undermine federal policies aimed at attrition; while avoiding incorporation into networks of information exchange thwarts the expansion of the federal surveillance apparatus. While the transformative impact of these efforts appears to be dwarfed by the massive in/exclusionary powers of the federal state, I conclude that these multiple acts of resistance create transversal borders that in small, often temporary, and yet significant, ways begin to redraw the boundaries of inclusion from within.


Leanne Weber is Associate Professor of Criminology, co-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She researches border control and migration policing using criminological and human rights frameworks. Her books include The Routledge International Handbook on Criminology and Human Rights, 2017 (with Elaine Fishwick and Marinella Marmo), Policing Non-Citizens, 2013 (Routledge), Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Context, 2013 (Routledge, with Ben Bowling) and Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier, 2011 (Palgrave, with Sharon Pickering).


Australian Immigration Detention: Exploring its Depth, Weight, Tightness and Breadth as Experienced by Women Detainees

Lorena Rivas1
1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Immigration detention has ignited vigorous debate in political, public and academic forums globally. Questions arise in relation to human rights and international law, the ethics and efficacy of this policy approach, how it works as a means of border control and how it impacts on immigration detainees. This study explores and provides an in-depth examination of the experiences of women detainees in long-term immigration detention in Australia. It examines the effects of immigration detention on their mental, physical and social well-being by combining both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data publicly available from the Commonwealth Ombudsman are complemented by interviews with women previously held in immigration detention and immigration detention service providers. This study then describes how Crewe’s framework, that focuses on the individual and collective experiences of imprisonment, can help shed light on the lived experiences of women who have been held in Australian immigration detention. In conclusion, lessons for detention policies across Western nations are drawn from the Australian policy experience.

Lorena Rivas is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, and associated with the Griffith Criminology Institute. She attained a double degree in Psychological Science and Criminology and Criminal Justice and was awarded First Class Honours in Criminology and Criminal Justice for her dissertation that investigated the impact of long-term immigration detention on women detainees’ mental health and human rights. Building on this, Lorena’s doctoral thesis is taking a wider scope to investigate the impact of long-term immigration detention on the physical, mental and social well-being of women detainees.


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