Furious refugee advocates start campaigning over DIMIA broken promises

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130
Web: https://www.safecom.org.au/

Furious refugee advocates start campaigning over DIMIA broken promises

Media Release
Monday August 30 2004 13:00pm WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Refugee advocates around Australia, including renowned Canberra-based migration agent Marion L OAM, are furious about what looks like deliberate stalling of refugee assessment outcomes for Afghanis in the Baxter detention centre by the Department of Immigration, DIMIA.

They have also vowed to start on a six-week campaign of pressure on sitting members of government, including targeting of marginal seats, in the lead-up to the election on October 9.

The refugee assessments were triggered by renewed commitment by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, as a result of updated UNHCR country information on Christmas eve 2003 - resulting in re-assessment of many Afghani cases on Nauru, and subsequent granting of refugee status of more than 150 asylum seekers from the island.

Immediately agents such as Marion L also started reformulating case file information of many Afghani's who are residents of the Baxter detention centre.

Review interviews were held in the last week of July this year, and the case officers were told to present the results on the Ministers' desk within one week - but up till today no results have been received by the Ministers office.

Project SafeCom's Jack Smit suspects that DIMIA is trying to postpone the becoming public of its appalling record of errors in assessments, where they have "blamed" many asylum seekers for being Pakistani, while the facts now confirm that many of them are genuine former residents of Afghanistan. "The best known case where it will only become more and more clear that DIMIA has seriously erred in its nationality assessments, causing untold grief, is the case of the Bahktiari family. Of course DIMIA wants to hide this", Mr Smit said.

According to Jane Keogh, as many as "seventy Afghanis, nine Iranians and many others waiting in detention" are affected by this seeming deliberate stalling by DIMIA.

Ms Keogh reported today: "The potential for despair and desperate action in the detention centres in the coming six weeks was almost tangible last night in Baxter. The Afghanis have moved from the hope of the past to deep despair last night."

"I talked to some last night in Baxter and they told me 'We are going to do something. We had hope now since our interview but now nothing. This was our last chance.'"

"I encouraged them not to do anything foolish but to leave the action to their supporters outside. If no response comes soon the Afghanis may not get their visas at all or at best will have to wait months in despair."

According to Ms Keogh, there are 10 or Iranians also waiting to have cases finalised that were reopened months ago. Countless others, families and individuals wait on results of 417 and 48B applications.

"Marion L has promised to kick off this campaign this week. People are already outraged by the government's lies about 'children overboard' and the outrage about broken promises to those still in detention promises to spread even further the shadow over the government's election campaign calling for our trust. The media is interested in Marion's response and she is willing to travel interstate to speak and hold media sessions if the promises are not met."

For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

Jane Keogh, refugee advocate
Canberra ACT
[phone number posted]

Marion L OAM, migration agent
Canberra ACT
[phone number posted]

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