Wednesday December 17, 2008 10:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Now that the seventh asylum seeker boat with 37 passengers has arrived in Australia, the situation on Christmas island may still be manageable, but signs are pointing squarely to an absence of structures put in place by Immigration Minister Chris Evans following his ANU lecture's "Seven Principles" new deal lecture for asylum seekers arriving in boats," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Last week advocates and locals on the island reported that for the group that "was allowed" to live in community housing following the initial health and identity checks and initial case interviews, there are no services available on the island, so that the group had to beg for car rides into the townsite from locals, that they had no clothes and had no money for life's necessities, so the Red Cross on the island had to step into the breach," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Chris Evans is squarely to blame for this situation, because while he with great fanfare has announced that under the new deal asylum seekers are "free to go" and leave detention, he keeps them in fact imprisoned in community detention, by failing to instruct his Immigration Department to formulate and issue a new style First Stage Bridging Visa, with which the asylum seekers who are cleared after health and security checks and initial case interviews can fly off the island and live in the Australian community, attend integration classes, language classes and access job seeking assistance."
"If these asylum seekers, like they are in countries such as the UK and The Netherlands, would be issued these First Stage Bridging Visas, Evans would also obviate the need to open John Howard's Christmas Island $400 milllion Gulag - a threat hanging over everyone currently in detention, and a looming dark cloud of expectation also for the local population, because before the cyclone season proper starts, it's likely that more boats will try to make the crossing from Indonesia, from now until the beginning of January."
"Chris Evans needs to put his money where his mouth is. It's plain, and it's simple, and it's done in many Convention countries, and it's called a First Stage Bridging Visa," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]