A possie in Aussie

November 11, 2009

The Wall: Ex-East German guards patrol new asylum seeker wall

The wall.It’s been in the news a great deal recently, as Berlin and the world commemorate the 20th anniversary of  the falling of the wall that divided East and West Berlin.

The new wall hardly makes it to the news at all – that is, the walls, both physical and virtual, that have been erected all over the world to keep people out.

Not just any people: people too poor to have skills or wealth that nations in the Global North (the ‘Western’ nations’) need, and people fleeing persecution. These are walls that are dividing the Global North and Global South.

Peter Andreas points out that many of the guards who were employed by East Germany to prevent East Germans escaping via the old Wall are now employed to keep people from entering Germany. The wall after the wall

Asylum has been externalised over the pas few decades.

That is, instead of people arriving in safe countries and applying for asylum, they are prevented from arriving at all. Some of these means include aggressive visa regimes, detention and interdiction practices, airline carrier sanctions, off-shore screening of passengers by airline liaison officers and visa restrictions to exclude asylum seekers. (See Asylum seeker crowd control: Australia and Europe hire 3rd world bouncers)

IN the EU there are ‘bilateral readmission agreements’. In order to be accepted into the EU nations such as Poland had to sign such an agreement, which means that Poland must accept any asylum seeker found in the ‘western’ EWU nations who has gained entry to the Union through Poland. Many of the less- western EU nations are signatories to such agreements.

As a consequence, Andreas says, “Poland hired thousands of border guards, built more border stations, purchased new equipment, and implemented tough new laws against unauthorized migration.”

‘Externalisation’ of asylum allows nations not to contravene the requirement of non-refoulement – that is, the obligation not to return asylum seekers or refugees to the situations from which they are fleeing.

Jennifer Hyndman and Alison Mountz have coined the term ‘neo-refoulement’, the geographic exclusion of asylum seekers before they come under the ambit of non-refoulement.


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