Monday October 27 2003 15:00pm WST
For Immediate Release
Ruddock's announced Migration Law Review warrants elaborate scrutiny and extreme caution, WA based refugee group Project SafeCom argues.
In the current situation, the Refugee Review Tribunal appoints just one single public servant, whose position is open to annual review by the Minister of Immigration, who sits in judgment of asylum seekers' appeals after their initial refugee claim assessments have failed.
If an asylum seeker fails to get a favourable outcome from the review of their claims by the RRT and submits an appeal to the courts, under the Attorney-General's current plans for the Migration Law Review, their claims could have yet another link in the review process which may well be stacked and biased by the government of the day.
Rejections of review applications by refugees for ongoing protection in Australia are currently already starting to develop, for example in the case of the Hazara's in Albany in Western Australia. Soon this problem with be highlighted elsewhere around Australia as well, with hundreds of Temporary Protection Visa holders, mostly members of the Hazara minority group, having to submit claims for protection for the second time after their current 3-year claims have expired.
We now have enough experience that the Howard government cannot be trusted, especially in its dealings with asylum seekers and refugees. We should be refusing the Attorney-General the review in its current form.
What needs to be reviewed much more urgently is the horrendous situation where one single public servant, paid by the Howard government in the RRT sits in judgment of asylum claim reviews.
Jesuit priest Frank Brennan told an audience in Bowral last year:
"During this last financial year (1 July 2001 - 30 June 2002), the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) set aside 62% of all Afghan decisions appealed and 87% of all Iraqi decisions appealed. This means that Afghan asylum seekers got it right 62% of the time when they claimed that the departmental decision makers got it wrong. And the public servants got it wrong 87% of the times that the Iraqi applicants claim to have been mistakenly assessed. Meanwhile the RRT set aside only 7.9% of decisions appealed by members of other ethnic groups. Even more disturbing than these comparisons is the statistic that in the last financial year, the RRT finalised 855 detention cases of which 377 were set aside. This is a 44% set aside rate in detention cases." [footnote 1]
The fact that the courts are clogged with asylum cases is the direct result of DIMIA's refugee assessment being of a shocking quality, and the fact that the RRT assessment is in line with the policies of attempts to deny protection, not of genuine attempts to grant protection to asylum seekers. DIMIA and the RRT serve the policies of hatred and xenophobia in Australia.
Ruddock's nicely spun words belie the fact that he in fact tries to cut off justice from asylum seekers, desperately trying to find protection. Ruddock can not be trusted.
footnote 1: see http://www.safecom.org/brennan.htm
For more information:
Project SafeCom Inc.
Jack H Smit
[phone number posted]
[phone number posted]