Imagine you are the government of a large developed country. You are a member of a variety of international conventions protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. But you hate them. You hate them SO much. You want to put them in a sack and toss the sack in a river and hurl the river into space.
You put up jerky billboards in their home communities telling them that they are absolutely, positively, definitely not welcome. You send your navy out to intercept the boats of desperate people making their way toward your shores. The ones you catch, you promptly (and illegally) hand over to the abusive governments they were fleeing. You give equipment and money to those same abusive governments to help them make sure no one escapes.
But still they come.
Reports begin to trickle out of horrors – disease and malnutrition, a blind eye turned toward sexual violence and torture among the inmates, a climbing suicide rate. And worse: children separated from their parents and raped by the guards.
Human rights groups have run out of adjectives with which to deplore your treatment of these vulnerable people. Your international reputation is suffering. So you do the only thing you can: You make it a crime for detention center staff to talk about the conditions there, with a penalty of two years in prison.
Because obviously, you’d rather prosecute doctors and humanitarian workers who speak out about abuses than crack down on child rapists or meet your obligations under international law. Let alone reflecting for one goddamn minute about how bad things must be back home for someone to abandon everyone and everything they’ve ever known for the uncertain chance of surviving the perilous ocean voyage, evading the patrol boats you gave to their abusers, and landing in your grotesque excuse for a detention facility.