Global Politics

VIDEO: In Australia, officials prohibit TV stations from airing video of asylum seekers

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Images like this one, showing asylum seekers arriving in Australia, would no longer be allowed to be broadcast on TV under new rules announced recently in Australia. (Photo from ABCau video.)

The Australian Communication and Media Authority says television stations will no longer be allowed to show video of asylum seekers reaching the country by boat.

But media companies are crying foul, saying the the restrictions, implemented at the behest of immigration officials, amount to censorship.

Chris Warren, federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, said this amounts to an effort to prevent asylum seekers from telling their stories to the Australian people.

Australia Censors Images of Asylum Seekers
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"It's an unnecessary restriction, which will get in the way of Australians really understanding what asylum seekers go through," Warren said.

Warren said while there are valid concerns about privacy behind the measure, it's not appropriate for the immigration authorities to step in and, in a heavy-handed way, try to impose restrictions on the media.

"They should be facilitating the ability of the media to talk to be able to asylum seekers and asylum seekers to be able to talk through the media to the Australian people and be able to tell their stories," Warren said.

Rather than being about privacy, Warren said this is just another in a long line of political decisions by immigration officials meant to keep asylum seekers from forging connections with Australians. And it's only through those connections, Warren said, that the country can get a handle on its immigration policy.

"Asylum seekers have a right to show themselves to the Australian people," he said.

Warren said the decision needs to be reviewed and consideration needs to be given to those at the center of this policy: the asylum seekers and the media.

"I think they'll find that asylum seekers are actually really keen for the Australian people to hear their stories and understand their experiences," he said.