Tuesday December 2, 2008 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"While some of the 18 recommendations in the first of three Detention Inquiry Reports - such as the abolition of the notorious Billing for Detention - are encouraging and applauded, the fact that a conservative Liberal (Senator Alan Eggleston) joined with the human rights and Multiculturalism advocate Petro Georgiou MP and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and wrote a dissenting report stressing that independent merits and judicial oversight should be available at all times, and that the detention limit should be set at 30 days, shows that there is a problem in the Detention Inquiry group of MPs and Senators," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
The first of three reports of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration was tabled in Parliament yesterday evening and is available for download from the Federal Parliament's website (2.1 Mb):
"Further, the fact that the first Inquiry Report, in the face of overwhelming evidence in hearings which pointed squarely at the failure when Immigration Department officials become a law unto themselves and lack external accountability, scrutiny and oversight, and when people get locked away without permission by the courts or judicial scrutiny at all times, keeps referring to the Department itself running the entire show of detaining people who have committed no crime, indicates a lack of vigour to address the issues in the face of this evidence," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
See "Politicians and the Whistleblower":
"Project SafeCom's testimony presented at the hearings included statements by an Immigration Department whistleblower, and was just one of the many presentations that should have led to a much stronger, external oversight with judicial powers.
"The unlikely alliance between Liberals and Greens acts out the role of the canary in the coal mine in its remarks, referring to Australia's International obligations and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that a person shall have a right to access a court at all times to prevent a structure of arbitrary detention."
"While Project SafeCom applauds these remarks, the fact that they had to appear in a dissenting report is concerning. The fact that there is no representation of a Labor MP or Senator in the dissenting group also shows its own problem in the culture of the Labor party with dissent in the ranks."
"The notes of the dissenters should have been adopted by the entire Joint Standing Committee so there would have been no need for a dissenting report. The fact that there is, shows that there is a possibility that Australia will keep locking up innocent people and that Australia will keep damaging people through prolonged, and entirely arbitrary, detention," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]