Tuesday March 29 2005 10:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
"If the Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock is so keen to try and point to spurious claims brought before Australian Courts and falsely blame refugee advocates, then he needs to precede this by de-registering the one or two shonky migration lawyers we have in Australia and expose them, and rule that lawyers for the Commonwealth pay costs out of their private pockets or from Liberal Party funds, if their cases are lost," WA Refugee group Project SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit said today.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today announced that he intends to introduce legislation that would see migration lawyers carry the costs of lost court cases.
"There is more evidence that The Commonwealth clogs up the courts with its ongoing, stubborn and complete resistance of people making asylum claims, and in this process they are the party "clogging up the lives of genuine asylum seekers" for years on end, more than that migration agents and their often pro-bono lawyers can carry the blame."
"The Senate Committee looking into the Bill would be well advised to get figures of the amount of money spent by the Commonwealth in appealing asylum cases since Tampa, whether these appeals were spurious, and detailed information about the amount of days, weeks, months and years this resistance by the Commonwealth keeps people, men, women and children in asylum limbo."
"After years of working in the field, many refugee advocates - often ordinary citizens - have developed a thorough knowledge how the Commonwealth legislation, and the appeals brought by the Commonwealth, are politically driven by the Howard government, and the Senate Committee may well wonder whether the bills paid by the Commonwealth in cases "against" asylum seekers should be paid out of Liberal and National Party funds, and perhaps even from Labor Party funds."
"It is John Howard and his government that carries the can for politicizing the asylum assessment process, and DIMIA is its shonky henchman for this politically driven 'exclusion whereever and whenever we can'."
"And, as Jesuit priest and lawyer Fr Frank Brennan found some time ago, the Department of Immigration was wrong in 87 per cent of the Iraqi cases and 78 per cent of the Afghan cases, when it claimed that they were not bona fide refugees."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]