sexta-feira, 17 de setembro de 2010


The arrival of asylum seekers from several countries such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka is a major problem of Australia’s department of immigration. Since the Howard administration, Christmas Island as an external territory of Australia has been used as the asylum seekers detention center. These people (asylum seekers) were held there while waiting for their proposal to be processed. As it is already beyond the capacity of that island to accommodate numerous of asylum seekers which get increase every year, the Gillard administration has proposed to East-Timorese government to settle a processing center there. This has been the proposal of currently re-elected Prime Minister Julia Gillard since she still led previous government where she ousted her co-party member former PM Kevin Rudd. The issue of asylum seeker also one of the main topics of her campaign in challenging her rival opposition leader Tony Abbot from Liberal Party.

The above issue is still skeptical in the view of many Timorese even in the very beginning East Timorese members of parliament unanimously have voted against that proposal but it seems like this voting does not literally affect the proposal since this issue still being put forward by both governments for further negotiation. But the question appears is that does Timor-Leste ready to be the site of asylum seeker processing center? This question could be answered or may arise numerous ideas from different point of view.

Naturally, as a young nation Timor-Leste has its own problems to be addressed. Unemployment is the major problem of the government to deal with. The field of work or job opportunity and the graduate of college students every year remain unbalance or even the job opportunity is relatively steady from year to year. There are several higher educational institutions which have accredited by the Ministry of Education, they produce thousands of skilled graduate students annually but only few of them employed by government agencies, local and international Non-Governmental Organizations, and several other institutions.

The remaining, they seek for life by doing menial jobs which is actually unacceptable. For graduate students from foreign schools mostly from several cities of Indonesia, they are relatively easy to get employed since it is common in the Timorese mind that they are well-trained or well-educated as to compare with those who graduate form TL’s college or universities.

Aside from unemployment rate, poverty is another social problem in Timor-Leste. Majority of Timorese population live with earning less than a dollar a day based on several studies have conducted. And there are several more problems need government’s attention to deal with. Therefore, if that is the case by setting up an asylum seekers processing center in the country, it literally means that adding another burden for the government. It is understood that financially would be supported by Australian government; therefore, some people might think that there is no problem with Timorese government since everything would be facilitated by Australia but actually processing center for asylum seeker doesn’t detention center in nature because if it is, this could mean that they are arbitrarily detained under international law. These people who are seeking for asylum in need of international protection and each country has its international legal obligation to protect them and moreover treat them humanely.

Assuming that the processing center of asylum seeker to Australia would be put up in Timor-Leste, therefore what kind of protection would be given to them? Would they be offered some jobs while waiting for their possibility to enter Australia? If it would, it is creation and the roots of another social problem since many Timorese are unemployed while these guys who are foreigners and in seeking of asylum would have more privilege then them.

To end this simple article, I would say that in this current flow of situation, Timor-Leste politically and economically is not ready to accept the proposed asylum seeker processing center.

*) Abrao J. Pereira
Estudent of Benguet State University
Major in veterinary medicine

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