The Case Of MV Tamala Case

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B. THE CASE OF MV TAMPA
The MV Tampa was a Norwegian merchant ship which was prevented by the Australian Government from entering into its territory. The Tampa rescued about 433 people in August 2001; many of them were of Afghan origin. These persons had been trying to reach Australia in a wooden fishing boat but the boat started sinking about 140 kilometers off the coast of Christmas Island. Some of the people aboard the ship required urgent medical attention so the Tampa decided to proceed to the nearest port, which was Christmas Island and is a part of Australian territory. Tampa paused at the border of Australia’s territorial sea and requested permission to enter and unload the refugees but the Australian government denied them permission.
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However, it seems to be a violation of the principle of non-refoulement. Australia redirected the vessel and refused to carry out a preliminary screening of the persons on board the Tampa, which constitutes a refoulement. The passengers had intended to enter Australia and in so being the first country of arrival, it fell upon it give temporary refuge and preliminary screening. Later on, it could have transferred the refugees to a third state for further processing and to send back those who were not deemed …show more content…
When we are talking about the sea, this border is the external limit of the territorial sea. This implies that if the coastal state intervenes in the contiguous zone, this cannot be justified by the prevention and repression powers afforded to them by Article 33(1) of UNCLOS. The only way in which the interception and redirection would be deemed legal is if it is intended for the protection of interests. It can be argued that preventing the violation of a migration law cannot be deemed as justifying any form of intervention. This can be seen in the 1935 I’m Alne case which was related to the smuggling of goods. In this case it was argued that the intentional sinking of the vessel was above and beyond the exercise of “necessary and reasonable force” in order to apprehend it. Even in exercising its exclusive powers, a coastal state must always keep in mind that its actions are not putting the passengers of the vessel in danger of torture or persecution.
In the context of non-refoulement it implies that a state can take action against a vessel with refugees present on it, in order to protect the laws and regulations of their country. However, the wording of article 33(1) and the use of “necessary” to qualify the controls that the coastal state may exercise in the listed fields makes it very difficult to ascertain how much is too much. Thus, there is a very real chance that this article could

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