Tuesday November 27, 2007 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Today we renew our call of a Royal Commission into the Immigration Department," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"While in the past we launched our action as a Royal Commission into the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and while more than 10,000 signed petitions have already been presented to the Speaker of the House by the ALP's Carmen Lawrence and Immigration spokesman Tony Burke, it really is and should be a Royal Commission into the Immigration Department," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
Longstanding Project SafeCom member and former Refugee Review Tribunal member, retired diplomat Bruce Haigh said that "a culture of perversion has been allowed to fester within the Department, which in fact made its work into a perversion of it mandate to offer protection from persecution, and this attitude went right to the top of its bureaucracy."
"Such a Royal Commission was endorsed when launched by the Australian Democrats and by the Greens as well as by Labor, and it is important that Labor commits itself to this Inquiry before it establishes any working relationships with the Department."
"There are many senior public servants in the Immigration Department's various sections such as the Compliance Branch and the Removals Branch, who should have been made answerable for their actions before as well as after the Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez scandals, and they should now be openly named and be made answerable to an inquiry with Royal Commission powers, and we're going to start calling for that naming to start happening, and it starts with former Department Secretary Bill Farmer, who was made Ambassador to Indonesia, and current Secretary Andrew Metcalfe," Mr Smit said.
"These people have been acting with powers that have caused, or could have prevented death, persecution and torture, and they have been shielded by "deliberately designed cover-ups" put in place by the Howard administration, and these questionable protection mechanisms should now be taken apart," Mr Smit said.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
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