A review of Netflix’s show Stateless: Uncovering the realities of immigration detention.

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

*WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS* **Note: Stateless examines Australia’s immigration practices, policies and legal framework as it was in 2004-2005. The discussion in this post may not reflect the current position in Australia and should not be taken as an analysis of the current state of migration law or policy in Australia** On 8 July 2020, Netflix released a six-part tv-show entitled “Stateless” which was produced by the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador, actress Cate Blanchett. The tv-show deals with the philosophical sense of losing one’s own identity when involved in the process concerning immigration detention, rather than statelessness in the legal sense. The show realistically depicts the difficulties detainees find themselves in when trying to seek asylum and shows how people, fleeing countries due to persecution or who are running away from territories ravaged by war, are then left in remote locations until they are forgotten.  At one point in the programme, when one of the main characters is brought to the immigration detention centre, the first words he mutters to the guard are “please, there must be a mistake. I am not a criminal.” These are the first true feelings and thoughts asylum seekers often have when first entering an immigration detention centre in a country they thought would provide them with protection and freedom. However, the realities, guided by anti-immigration policies in the countries of destination, are unfortunately often quite different. 

These difficulties are first felt during the journey towards the place of destination. The show begins by showing a family of Afghans who try to reach Australia whilst having their money and identity documents stolen by smugglers. The family is then separated and later reunited, however they later find out half of their family members have drowned at sea whilst trying to reach their new homeland with a small wooden boat. 

These are the realities thousands of asylum seekers and migrants face around the world. In 2019, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) recorded 5,294 deaths of migrants who died trying to reach another country, however the real number is thought to be much higher. The ma