Monday October 7 2005 9:00am WST
For Immediate Release
WA Rights lobby group Project SafeCom expresses its deep dismay and stunned amazement this morning at the audacity of the Howard government's scheduled 'Migration Litigation Reform Bill 2005' appearing on the parliamentary schedule for coming Tuesday (11 October, 12:30pm), which attempts to impose further restrictions on court appeals by immigration detainees/refugees.
"While there is now overwhelming evidence since the Tampa affair that the DIMIA primary refugee assessors are stacked to such a level by political bias, that it can be said to be entirely corrupt, the Minister for Immigration, just fresh from the Vivian Alvarez debacles, has the audacity to push for this legislation."
"In 2002 Jesuit Priest Frank Brennan concluded that the DIMIA primary assessment had an average error rate of 75%, as shown by the number of cases overturned on appeals by the RRT."
"Last year, the DIMIA Primary Assessor erred 100% of the time in relation to the Hao Kiet Vietnamese, causing them untold grief as a result, by having them locked away in the Christmas Island refugee jail. It took the Vietnamese community tens of thousands of dollars and the refugees a 2-year imprisoned wait until under the threat of Federal Court action the DIMIA started to see some sense - and it took Ministerial intervention with many of the Vietnamese so the heat could be pointed away from also some shonky reviews by members of the RRT."
"And paralegals in Western Australia have confirmed to Project SafeCom that the re-proving of refugee claims for TPV holders caused an error rate for the DIMIA assessors of 95% of the time amongst the about 800 applications in the last year. This shocking error rate correlates to similar rates in other states for TPV holders, as confirmed by Ms Pamela Curr of the Melbourne Asylum Seeker Resource Centre."
"This is the context where several Liberal MP's have been trying to 'sell the line' that endless periods spent in detention is a result of the many court appeals that are possible for refugees. These MP's are peddling this entirely false notion to push for the legislation, but they fail to be open and accountable for the fact that it was the shocking errors made by the DIMIA that caused this detention in the first place."
Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit said, that "this legislation was pushed immediately following the party room meeting that considered the demands by Petro Georgio's group - and in the weeks following the 31 May party meeting, MP's such as the treasurer Peter Costello, Mal Washer (Moore), Malcolm Turnbull (Wentworth) declared that this legislation would "fix the problem" while Attorney-General Philip Ruddock at the time expressed he would introduce this legislation using the Senate marority after July 1 this year."
"This week we can again witness the serious problems with the DIMIA culture, but the fact that these MPs peddle the false notion that taking away justice of court reviews will fix the problem of detention, shows that the same culture pervades the Howard administration. It is politicians who should be brought to account. Since Tampa they are the authors of the poisoned climate for unannounced refugees coming to our country."
"When the DIMIA system is so seriously broke as to fail 75% to 100% of visa claimants, there's absolutely no way we can afford to take court reviews still available to the victims of this broke system."
Countering the Kooyong Break-out:
For more information:
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Melbourne
[phone number posted]
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]