Tuesday July 5 2005 10:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"At least twelve men - but maybe as many as twenty asylum claimants - all of them locked up in the Baxter refugee jail for at least four or five years, have been "forgotten" and are left behind in Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone's "Visa lottery" of the by-invitation-only Return Pending Bridging Visa (RPBV), while all of them would qualify in terms of the duration of their detention", WA Refugee group Project SafeCom claims this morning.
Several Iranians and Bangladeshi, as well as Vietnamese, Palestinian and other asylum seekers from African countries have been left behind in the Baxter detention centre without having received an invitation by the Immigration Minister to apply for the newly defined RPBV - a direct result of the pressure exerted upon the Prime Minister by the Georgiou Group last month.
"In addition, Department of Immigration officers have also seriously confused the men by falsely or incorrectly informing them of the reasons for not having been included amongst those who were invited, citing reasons specifically identified as no impediments in qualifying for the Visa, giving renewed credence to claims made by whistleblowers and insiders that DIMIA is seriously biased, employs second-rate methods, and even engages in intimidation of refugees using falsehoods or distortions of facts," spokesman Jack Smit commented.
The new regulations, announced since the negotiations with the Georgiou group by Minister Vanstone, now provide for offers also to those asylum seekers who have appeals pending, or claims under section 48b (claiming new country information applicable to their claim for refugee status) or section 417 (request for Ministerial Intervention), as well as to those who no longer have any process or claim before the Minister or the Courts.
Yet, contrary to this, "one of the men in this group of twelve was told he was not offered the RPBV because he had no process continuing, including a s417 or s48b. However, he knew of at least two people with no s417/48b or court appeals pending who were offered this visa. The information these men are being given is confusing and contradictory. They are extremely anxious," advocates have claimed.
"This whole sorry saga of granting Visas by invitation only, on the whim of a Minister, whose recently extended set of "non-compellable powers" without outside review or scrutiny only serves the interests of keeping asylum control in the hands, and extremely dangerous hands at that, of politicians."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]