Sunday May 1 2005 6:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"The admission by Acting Immigration Minister Peter McGauran that Australian citizens and residents have been snatched and grabbed and deported away from Australia confirms serious concerns refugee advocates have held and tried to make public for a considerable time," WA Refugee lobby group Project SafeCom said today.
"At the start of the Cornelia Rau affair and revelations Project SafeCom already stated that Mick Palmer's first and main recommendation as a former police chief should outline that DIMIA powers far exceed ASIO and Police powers and should be curtailed immediately.
"If you're a murder suspect, even a serial killer suspect, the police can only hold you for 24 hours, and ASIO can hold suspected terrorists for seven days, yet only on the suspicion of 'illegality' by someone who may well be a junior bureaucrat and new to the job, you can be grabbed, locked away in immigration detention, and as we now find out, deported, even if you are an Australian citizen or resident, and at no time in this chain of horror events DIMIA needs to be held accountable before a judge or a magistrate.
"Both at the point of intended detention and at the point of intended deportation, DIMIA should appear before a Court, a Judge or a Magistrate and declare its intention for these actions, and they should be scrutinized before some young vilgilante DIMIA officer goes ahead in zealousness with these actions," spokesman Jack Smit said.
"Project SafeCom joins with other refugee advocates and with the former Liberal Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Fraser in demanding a Royal Commission into the operations and powers of the Department of Immigration and their bureaucrats, now well on the record as the "Official Snatch and Grab Department.
"Perhaps John Howard should issue another fridge magnet around and make it available to all Australians - with emergency numbers of human rights monitors and refugee advocates' organisations on it, because the record shows that the real monitors of the Department of Immigration in the last three years have been groups such as Rural Australians for Refugees, the Refugee Action Collectives around the country, and groups such as Project SafeCom and others.
"Having these phone numbers on the fridge in case Australians fear they may be grabbed and deported may provide much more useful safeguards against the "Commonwealth Snatch and Grab and Deportation Department" than the unchecked behaviour of a government department that seems clearly out of control without the much needed checks and balances - a Department that now clearly endangers the existence of decent Australians."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]