Monday July 5, 2011 8:00pm WST
For Immediate Release
"Recently emerging stories and court challenges to the jailing in adult prisons of minors accused - but never charged - of people smuggling exposes that the Immigration Department operates outside any laws relating to imprisonment, and even more disturbingly, the revelations expose that the Australian Federal Police works in collusion with Immigration in a practice of sheer indefinite arbitrary jailing," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The Australian Federal Police, or for that matter, the police anywhere in Australia, would never be able to throw someone in jail without formally charging them. Such charges would have to be presented forthwith to a court anywhere in the country," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The recent court challenges show that the Immigration Department has powers only reminding us of practices in medieval times, where individuals 'suspected' but not charged can be jailed, not for 24 hours under common provisions, or for one week under anti-terrorist legislation, but for as long as they like because, in responding to racism and xenophobia, callous and populist politicians have poisoned and corrupted the Migration Act, giving Immigration almost unlimited extrajudicial powers," Mr Smit said.
"Not only has the Immigration Department wild west cowboy powers of arbitrary and extrajudicial imprisonment of adults, but these powers also apply indiscriminately to children or those 'suspected' to be minors, as the reports have revealed. As many as 90 juveniles are imprisoned under these conditions, and the Australian Federal Police has happily cooperated with Immigration to perpetuate this status quo," Mr Smit said.
"We need an immediate Inquiry into this untenable situation, and the Migration Act needs to be changed so the Immigration Department returns to the only position it should hold - one where it is fully answerable to Australian Courts before they arbitrarily imprison adults, children and anyone. It's time that we end the medieval reign of the Immigration cowboys and it's time we end Australia's callous wild-west mentality around our extremist laws in place under the Migration Act."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]