Wednesday October 17, 2007 8:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"While virtually every reporter in Australia is on deck for the election campaign and sits poised to hear the next syllable to emanate from the mouth of Prime Minister John Howard and the Opposition leader Kevin Rudd, the Immigration Department, Australia's detention centre operator GSL and the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews are forcibly deporting asylum seekers who sought Australia's protection after having had the most heinous forms of torture inflicted on then," WA human rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"As reported by Melbourne's Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's campaign coordinator Pamela Curr in five separate Blog entries (all are reproduced below), A Sri Lankan man (RW) has just been deported by force, while a Chinese man (DP) has receives an abysmal standard of care by DIAC and the Detention Centre Operator GSL, that bears all the hallmarks of the pre-Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez care disgrace," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The Blog entries show, that the forcible deportation procedure of the Sri Lankan man, complete with helmet, handcuffs and 'medical restraint' should be of great concern from a medical ethics perspective for every registered medico or nurse, but worse than that, it appears that the case for protection from persecution for the man, who carries clear physical evidence of gross torture to his lips and penis, is so clear that just on the face of this alone one should wonder whether the assessment process has been grossly bungled by the Immigration Department."
"In any case, with the deportation the Minister has also blatantly breached the non-refoulement principle of the United Nations Refugee Convention, where signatories endorse the commitment to not ever return an asylum seeker to a country where they would fear persecution. Clearly, if the Minister, who has a growing record of abysmal incompetence as well as blatant disregard for feedback and criticism - as the Haneef case bungling as well as his vilifying attitude to the Sudanese refugees has recently shown - thinks someone has to be deported, then sitting down with a 'refused asylum seeker' and finding a third country seems the minimum the Minister ought to have done," Mr Smit said.
"Further, very serious questions should be raised about the ethics, if not legitimacy, of deportations carried out during the government's caretaker period, and questions should also surface about the fact that the socalled 'Ministerial Intervention Unit' seems to operate without any deportation or other major decision being taken with the express endorsement of or knowledge of the case by the Minister or without a direct signature on the paperwork by the Minister. What happened during this process seems to be the work of yet another Orwellian bureaucratic instrument created since the Cornelia Rau debacle."
"Finally, the DIAC seems to have thrown the Chinese man "DP" into the isolation compound of the Maribyrnong detention centre, but detention operators need twelve hours to find a blanket for a near-naked man. It seems to us that the standard of detention also ought to be called into serious question," Jack Smit said.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Tortured Man Removed
October 16, 2007 on 4:07 am
Under cover of darkness, the Sri Lankan man "RW" was taken out of Maribyrnong in a helmet and handcuffs and "medical restraint" to a flight out of Melbourne. This is a terrible decision. Deporting a man who has been tortured and who is not mentally fit, back to his country of origin, places him at grave risk.
30 people gathered at the gates of the detention centre at 6am but the department had accomplished their task before our arrival.
This removal has taken place during the government's caretaker period. We are asking for a stay on deportations & removals during the election and will be pursuing this strenuously today.
This report from researchers at Latrobe details concerns about the current policy http://www.latrobe.edu.au/rhrc/documents/removing.pdf
Seeking support for tortured man
October 15, 2007 on 10:11 pm
We seek your support for "RW", a man who has been tortured and who is scheduled to be removed/deported tomorrow.
We are asking for more time so that an independent medical examination can be undertaken to determine his fitness travel. Permission was sought for an independent psychological treatment in August this year and refused by the immigration department.
We are also seeking time for a proper assessment and recognition of the torture to which he was subjected and its effect on his health.
We believe that correct recognition of RW's refugee claim has not been given.
The late notification today of his removal has not allowed for these measures to be undertaken.
Please contact the Ministers office.
Tel:(02) 6277 7860
Fax: (02) 6273 4144
Tel: (03) 9848 9900
Fax: (03) 9848 2741
Tortured Man Faces Deportation Tomorrow
URGENT URGENT - TELL THE MINISTER
October 15, 2007 on 10:09 pm
A [Sri Lankan] man [RW] who had his penis burnt with hot irons, his legs beaten and his lips torn from repeatedly being punched in the face has been refused refugee protection in Australia. This decision has been made by the MIU bureaucrats (Ministerial Intervention Unit) and has not actually reached the Minister. We are trying to remedy this urgently.
His medical report says:
"The scars on the legs are consistent with being beaten. The scars on his lips are consistent with being punched in the face. The areas of pigmentation on his penis are consistent with being burnt".
This man was attacked because of his political affiliations. His wife was raped in front of him, his two year child was beaten and assaulted as an example of what would happen to people who changed political parties. His case is well known in Sri Lanka, placing him further at risk.
He came to Australia in 1999 to escape further persecution and has been in detention for nearly two years. His family are currently being targetted and his mother has had to move from her home and hide. He has had no contact with his wife since 2004 when she was working in a hotel in an area hit by the tsunami. It is believed that she is among the 38,940 people who drowned in the catastrophe. His child is being cared for be relatives. He has no contact so as not to endanger her.
"This man's life is one of unbelievable tragedy and violence through no fault of his own. The situation in Sri Lanka is now worse than ever," says Pamela Curr of the ASRC. "We ask the Minister to intervene and show compassion to a man who has suffered incomparable pain and torture. If he is not a refugee deserving of protection - who is?"
Further News on DP
October 15, 2007 on 12:06 am
At 4pm Friday we asked that DP be given a second blanket as he was cold. The guard told me that a "blanket was being organised". My requests as to the amount of time required to "organise" a blanket elicited a response that it would be soon.
The Blanket was given to DP twenty hours later at noon on Saturday. Clearly "organising a blanket" is a massive task.
I also asked if there was airconditioning or heating in DP's room. I was told that both was available. I was told that the airconditioning was not on and DP could have the heater on if he wished. Today I found out that the heater does not work. Clearly in this circumstance it would seem that if any goodwill or duty of care was being shown towards DP, that they would not have left him cold overnight.
Considering that he is only allowed to wear a short cotton smock- a second blanket would have been a small consideration.
This man, who has been discharged from a hospital following a serious suicide attempt and who is diagnosed as suffering depression, has been placed in the "care" of DIAC and GSL. This "care" denied him both access to visits from Catholic nuns and a priest. We had organised these visits to provide support to DP who is in a very depressed state. DIAC denied them entry. After all sitting in a room with two guards for the whole weekend is an awful prospect. One small comfort he was allowed late on Friday was a bible - nothing else. What harm could be done by visits from these respected religious visitors - none. What good could be done by these visitors - comfort and support for a man in great fear.
This is punishment because DIAC and GSL were thwarted in their aim to remove him.
Please continue calling the Ministers office.
Urgent: DP Needs our Help Again
October 12, 2007 on 6:17 am
DP needs our help again - this time to get out of a solitary room in Villawood.
Yesterday he was discharged from Hospital and after being kept in Stage 1 for three hours while paperwork was prepared by the Department of Immigration (DIAC), he was moved to a small locked room in Stage 1 where is currently detained.
His clothes were removed and he was given one blanket and a suicide gown, his mobile phone was confiscated and three guards are watching him, two in his room and one outside. He has nothing- no books, radio nothing.
He was asked to sign letter giving permission for DIAC and GSL to strip search whenever they decide it is necessary! DP is in a heightened state of distress given the above measures. He was cold overnight and could not sleep at all in the presence of the guards. DP has lodged two cases in the High Court and is waiting for them to be heard.
We believe that if he is deemed well enough for discharge from hospital, that he should be allowed to be with his friends. There can be no therapeutic value to holding him in solitary in an empty locked room with nothing but two guards standing over him. What the current PERSONAL CARE PLAN will do is keep him in heightened state of anxiety, which will cause physical and mental exhaustion and possibly lead to a further breakdown.
This is the way detainees were treated in the awful pre-Cornelia Rau days. Suicide prevention not treatment or therapeutic care is the goal. No matter what is done to a detainee, no matter how threatening or punitive their management, they are not allowed to either escape or kill themselves.
PLEASE RING THE MINISTERS OFFICE AND DEMAND THAT DP BE RELEASED FROM THIS CELL AND TREATED LIKE A HUMAN BEING.
Tel: (02) 6277 7860
Fax: (02) 6273 4144
Tel: (03) 9848 9900
Fax: (03) 9848 2741