Thursday February 17 2005 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"The finding that DIMIA has unlimited powers of apprehending and detaining people without judicial scrutiny that warrants an immediate amendment to the Migration Act, should jump at the government's appointee for the Cornelia Rau Inquiry, especially because Mick Palmer is a former police commissioner," WA Refugee Lobby group Project SafeCom stated today.
"It is clear as bright daylight, and it must also already be clear as crystal to the former police commissioner, that you can be held by the police, but no longer than 24 hours, if you're a suspect of a crime. After that a court needs to grant permission for an extension."
"It is also common knowledge, that if you're suspected of having knowledge of, or even association with others who know of, a terrorist group or an activity of a terrorist group, you can be held - incommunicado if so desired - by the Australian police or other authorities, for a maximum of seven days. After that a court needs to grant permission for an extension."
"But if you're suspected, and ONLY suspected, of being an 'illegal immigrant' or an 'unlawful non-citizen', not even on the assessment of an Australian police officer, but of any junior Department of Immigration (DIMIA) Official, you are not only at risk of being detained, but that officer is 'under the obligation' to detain you."
"This, in our view untenable situation, gives DIMIA officers more powers than anyone in the Australian police force, and greater powers than USA Authorities who until recently intended to hold people 'indefinitely' in the Guantanamo Bay prison camps, since an American court curtailed those powers recently."
"This week's Senate inquiry showed that this can happen to a French tourist, a Vietnamese fiancee of someone in Australia, in addition to Ms Cornelia Rau. Theoretically it is well possible that people in shock after a traumatic vehicle accident, people in shock after reliving military trauma, as well as people in various phases of psychological counselling are amongst those most of risk of being snapped up and locked away without outside scrutiny by DIMIA."
"In a democracy that does not allow its age-old foundations of due process to be eroded, it would follow that Mr Mick Palmer's main recommendation would inevitably state that the powers granted under the relevant Migration Act sections need to immediately be curtailed, and become subject to court approval, reveiw and scrutiny."
"If this does not immediately jump out as the main recommendation of Mick Palmer, we know who he votes for, and it isn't parliamentary and accountable democracy in Australia."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
For details about the Cornelia Rau affair see