Wednesday March 16 2005 07:30am WST
For Immediate Release
WA refugee lobby group Project SafeCom today expressed outrage over the sheer unlimited powers under which the Department of Immigration's 'Compliance Section' barges in and conducts raids on private property and acts as "baby-snatchers", destroying the lives of people all around the country.
"We've seen it first in the raid on the now deported Bakhtiari family, where they snatch and grab babies and toddlers from their beds before dawn in order to lock them up", spokesman Jack Smit said, "and next we saw it on growers' properties in Victoria and New South Wales, where public servants write out their own 'home-made warrants', not even bothering to ask the property owners for permission to enter, and now we see them enter schools and playgrounds of schools to conduct their despicable acts of civil disturbance."
"We've learnt about the danger of these unchecked powers from the debacle of the Cornelia Rau affair, and a chance should come soon to rectify the situation, when the Migration Act will be asked to undergo amendments for the purpose of the requested detention of illegal fishermen, when the government seeks to amend the Fisheries Management Act."
"In none of the cases of the raids, individuals are of any danger whatsoever to Australia's security, and never before in Australian history have we seen bureaucrats granted such unbelievable powers of arrest and detention."
"If you overstay your visa in a decent country, you get notified, but not thrown in a maximum security jail. It's high time that we end the unscrutinised terror reign of some mad and fanatic bureaucrats and order them to a court to seek approval before they apply detention as a solution - which by international law should remain "an act of last resort" only, and then in no circumstances applicable to children and women, or men who pose no danger to our State's security."
"And in terms of what these snatch hounds do to children, these raids should be seen for what they really are: legitimised acts of child abuse, and child abusers have no place in the Australian Public Service".
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Parents, teachers slam school raids
By David Crawshaw
March 16, 2005
TEACHERS and parents today slammed the Immigration Department for taking the children of suspected visa overstayers from their schools.
It was cruel and inhumane that students as young as six had been taken from their Sydney schoolyards in the past fortnight because their parents were apparently in Australia illegally, the NSW Teachers Federation said.
The Immigration Department has confirmed the raids but so far has refused to say more.
The federation said it was investigating up to seven instances across Sydney in the past fortnight in which students from Stanmore, Kogarah and Chester Hill schools and an unnamed Seventh-Day Adventist school were detained in Villawood detention centre.
Federation senior vice president Angelo Gavrielatos today called on the Federal Government to end the cruel policy.
"We are shocked and appalled at the events of the last week or two which have seen officials from the Department of Immigration enter our schools and remove children from schools," Mr Gavrielatos said.
"This is an absolute outrage, it has shocked us all.
"We call on the government to end the cruelty ... and observe the basic rights that these children have."
NSW Parents and Citizens Federation Sharryn Brownlee said parents were horrified at what had happened and children had been traumatised.
"The impact on these young children's lives will remain with them forever," Ms Brownlee said.
The NSW Opposition justice spokesman Andrew Tink today refused to comment on the Coalition's decision to reveal details of the police operation.
"I'm not going to go back over old ground, I'm not going to traverse matters that have already been dealt with," Mr Tink said.