Friday May 9, 2014 12:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Scott Morrison's push to merge Customs and the Immigration Department into an Australian Border Agency forms the most opportune juncture in all the history of the Immigration Department since its establishment in 1945 - to liberate immigration officers from their most conflicted task, the task of refugee assessment, processing and determination," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said today.
"Ever since 1945, politicians from all sides have stuck their politically loaded fingers into the refugee processing and determination system to get their own politically convenient outcomes, more than often directly in breach of international and Australian law. The time of their sticky fingers of interference poking into the impartiality of who is and who is not a refugee needs to end, and this restructuring period would be an ideal time to end this," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The Refugee Convention is a human rights instrument, and Border Guards and border officers know jack shit about human rights law and human rights provisions that underpin the UN Convention and that are laid down in international law. Refugee assessment, refugee processing and refugee determinations should reside in an established and independent authority that e.g. is an adjunct to the Australian Human Rights Commission, so Australian politicians can no longer stick their grubby fingers into the pie to warp or destroy the independence or integrity of this process."
"We've seen this political interference most recently in the bombastic and self-aggrandising bullying by former Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, when he started belching that recently arrived asylum seekers are all economic migrants, without presenting a skerrick or having any intent to back up his disgusting rhetoric with coherent and convincing evidence."
"We see this evidence in the extremist zealotry of Scott Morrison who belts the living daylight out of asylum seekers by snipingly branding each and everyone as an 'illegal arrival' to justify the other part of his and Tony Abbott's political rhetorical platform - to strip them not just of all their rights, but also of their physical safety in offshore detention situations, whether that's on Manus Island or Nauru, or - God forbid - Cambodia."
"It's time to free the Immigration Department from the task they have always been least able to do 'without fear or favour'. It's time to strip them off refugee assessment, refugee processing and refugee determination."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]