Who: “The people coming here by irregular maritime arrivals (arriving by boat) are not people fleeing persecution…They’re coming here as economic migrants… We need a tougher, more hard-edged assessment.” Bob Carr
“Recent spike in Iranian immigration, which is overwhelmingly middle-class Iranians… who are coming to these shores as economic migrants” Bob Carr
The claim: The majority of asylum seekers who arrive by boats are economic migrants not genuine refugees and a tougher procedure for granting refugee status needs to be in place. In particular, Bob Carr referred to a recent spike in Iranian asylum seekers.
The facts: Australia determines the validity of claims for asylum using standards set under international law. Those who are granted refugee status must meet the UN definition of a refugee which excludes people who are only seeking economic opportunities. This means that people who are economic migrants will not be granted refugee status.
In the last quarter to March 2013, 90.5 per cent of processed claims were found to be genuine, including 86.5 per cent of asylum seekers from Iran who were granted refugee status.
Discussion of evidence: Australia stopped processing new claims from asylum seekers arriving by boat in August 2012. Processing began again on July 1, 2013 which means for the past eleven months Australia has not processed any new claims.
Existing claims continued to be processed and in the first three months of 2013 nine out of ten claims from people who had arrived on boats were found to be genuine. This included 86.5 per cent of claims from Iranian asylum seekers.
The recent spike in Iranian asylum seekers that Bob Carr refers to cannot be classified as economic migrants as their claims will not have been processed yet. However, the majority of existing claims processed this year were found to be genuine refugees.
Tanya Martin Office Manager
Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser