Australia, Covid-19, and the India Travel Ban

Olivera Simic

Abstract


As of 20 March 2020, the Australian Government closed the country’s international borders and enforced a ban on overseas travel to and from the country. The citizens of Australia have become the only citizens among democratic nations who cannot leave the country unless they receive an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs. Australia’s ban on travel has been among the strictest in the world. On 30 April 2021, the Morrison Government moved to threaten Australians trying to return home from the then COVID-19-ravaged India with fines and jail time. This was the first time in its history that Australia banned its own citizens from returning to their homeland, to the point of enacting criminal sanctions for those who attempted to do so. In this paper, I look at how extraordinary measures stipulated in the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) have affected Australian citizens’ human rights and freedoms. I use the India travel ban as a case study in this paper. The paper argues the unprecedented move to ban all flights to and from India by the federal overnment was disproportionate, unnecessary, and life threatening for stranded citizens. I draw on media, human rights reports, and available data to analyse how the biosecurity laws were arguably enforced with little or no regard for fundamental human rights, including the right to life and healthcare. This decision ultimately resulted in the deaths of overseas citizens from COVID-19, who were banned from returning to their own homeland.


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References


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