Wednesday February 8, 2007 11:40am WST
For Immediate Release
"By refusing to accept Mr Al Jenabi and grant him a humanitarian visa for living in Australia, the Minister for Immigration Chris Evans has committed himself to flawed legislation, crafted during a shameful era of Australia, and created by the now well discredited Prime Minister John Howard, but not only that, what he has done to Al Jenabi, he may as well said to have done to the man who sold the donkey to Mary and Joseph or to the priest who helped the Von Trapp family across the Alps," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
Sydney-based advocate and member of the Asylum Seeker Interest Group, the former ABC Current Affairs Broadcaster John Highfield (mobile 0417 024 766) comments on the Minister's decision:
"Ali Al Jenabi was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in the Federal Court in Darwin in 2003 on charges of breaching the Immigration Act by people smuggling. A model prisoner, he was released on parole 19 months ago but immediately detained and placed in Villawood IDC in Sydney."
"In the original trial in the Federal Court, Justice Kevin Lindgren acknowledged that Mr Al Jenabi was not motivated by commercial gain - but from a concern to assist his own family and fellow Iraqi's who were victims of Saddam Hussein."
"Prior to his activities to get people to Australia, Mr Al Jenabi had been imprisoned in the notorious Abu Graib torture centre in Baghdad. A Senior Case Officer at the Immigration Department found that he qualified for Protection under Australia's obligations to the Refugee Convention."
"The Minister conveniently forgot to mention, in his Media Release yesterday, that Mr Al Jenabi's entire surviving immediate family - his mother, uncle, three brothers and two sisters have all been given the right to reside in Australia. As with the attempted secrecy surrounding his visit to Indonesia recently, Senator Evans seems intent on following the course of the previous Government in not being open and transparent when it comes to Immigration matters. Is Mr Al Jenabi to be forcefully separated from his entire surviving family and eventually deported to the uncertainty of Iraq - merely to make a cheap political point - to whom?"
"And how do the Minister's actions square with the words of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Mr Rudd told the ABC 7.30 Report that he was "passionate about the (Refugee) Convention". As with the dark days of Mr Ruddock's stewardship of the Immigration Department, it appears the new Minister can be persuaded all too easily to ignore humanity."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Asylum Seeker Interest Group, Sydney NSW
[phone number posted]