Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ministerial scrutiny

Moir in the SMH

a good day but the way is long

As this blog has suggested more than once, as our institutions increase their scrutiny of asylum seeker detention the Government's policies will unravel. Today's decision of the Federal Court putting the onus on the Government to prove that deportees will be safe in their home country is a good outcome for thousands of refugees on TPVs.

The hypocrisy of the Government knows no bounds. This week has seen the spectacle of Ruddock citing human rights grounds for review of anti-terrorism laws, whilst key provisions of international human rights and asylum law are contravened by our asylum seeker system. This looks like a further threat to civil rights.

Today also sees the release of children in detention into some vague form of 'community detention'. Unsurprisingly, there are reports of confusion and worry at the camps today as released children and their guardians readjust to this new reality.The uncertainty for those caught up in this horror will continue as the Government makes populist decisions on the hop.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

snatching 2 kids just an 'administrative error'

Earlier in the year we watched with horror as two children were snatched by DIMIA officials from their Primary school in Stanmore. Teachers, students and members of the general public were alarmed by the bullying culture that enables this to happen. It is becoming clearer by the day that abuse is endemic to the detention system.

We now find that the grabbing of these children was a DIMIA error. The trauma the family suffered was totally uncalled for.

These abuses will not happen if we have a practicable and humane community based system to manage review of migration cases. The culture of detention itself is at fault and will remain a blight on the Australian landscape.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A broad public enquiy is needed

The Palmer report is a signpost that an open public inquiry is now required to establish exactly why Australia's detention system has failed, what the human cost of that failure has been, and what we can do as a society to ensure nothing similar ever happens again.

Guy Coffey is a clinical psychologist who has assessed people in immigration detention over the past seven years. Read Guy's article in The Age

Monday, July 18, 2005

Fate of returned asylum seekers

The following overview of David Corlett’s Following Them Home is a shuddering reminder of how Australia has put people in harm’s way through deportation.

”In mid-2004, I traveled to meet asylum seekers whom Australia had returned to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. My intention was to witness first-hand the circumstances into which Australia returns people it deems not to need protection. This is the story of that expedition.

The Australian government has long declared that it owes no duty of care to those asylum seekers it deports, even after the deportees in question have spent years in our detention system. This duty of care has been boldly assumed by David Corlett. His book becomes a necessary humanitarian account. But as a record of human struggle and voyaging, it makes good reading as well. In the vacuum of our government¹s policy, we all owe Corlett a debt.

Beyond detention centres and Australian shores, Following Them Home explores the lands that asylum seekers flee and in many cases, to which they are returned. Here, at last are the untold stories of Australia's returned asylum seekers. While the government investigates how it wrongly detained and deported its own citizens, this book is a timely reminder of the treatment suffered by non-citizens seeking protection. Through Corlett's account the personal cost of the government's policies and processes become horrifically clear. From asylum seekers brutalised by Iranian police to those living illegally and in constant fear, in the words of Robert Manne "Corlett is inquisitive, compassionate and physically courageous".

As Corlett's analysis of the high profile Bakhtiyari case shows, Following Them Home is a complex and in-depth exploration of asylum seekers, their supporters and detractors. Above all, this is an argument for humane treatment rather than simple asylum. With a foreword by Robert Manne, this book tells the stories Australia has until now, been able to ignore. Hard- hitting, gut-wrenching - Not since Dark Victory have we seen such a powerful attack on government policy.

Author Details

David Corlett has worked with refugees and asylum seekers as a case worker and a researcher. In 2003, he completed a doctoral thesis on Australia¹s response to asylum seekers. Written with Robert Manne, his Quarterly Essay "Sending Them Home" also focussed on Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and was shortlisted for the 2004 Human Rights Award. His writing has also appeared in the UNSW Law Journal, Dissent, Australian Quarterly and the Canberra Times.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Jesuit centre releases paper on Nauru

Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre announced today the publication of View on Nauru – Between a Mined-out Rock and a Hard Place, its latest research paper in its View on the Pacific series. The paper was co-authored by former editor of the Pacific Report, Helen Fraser, and Uniya’s researcher, Minh Nguyen.

I am just a poor boy...

Moir in the SMH

Thursday, July 14, 2005

its everyone else's fault...

In the face of the Palmer report, and displaying the breathtaking hubris we have come to expect, Howard and Vanstone reject suggestions that the department's blunders were linked to the Government's hardline stance on asylum seekers. That would be admitting that the whole policy is one big blunder - and we have'nt yet seen squadrons of pigs practising fly bys on ACT avenues.

And, just in case you were wondering, Howard has every confidence in his Minister for Immigration. But the public eye is opening as the full extent of this abusive system is revealed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

the tune doesn't change

In a week of blog inactivity on my part there has been no shortage of activity on the asylum seeker front.

Bill Farmer has been kicked back into the realms of ambassadorial boffins, where no doubt he will continue to demonstrate a cynical disconcern for the fate of sanctuary seekers caught up in our 'politicised' immigration system. It is disturbing to watch Howard continue on his merry way of rewarding colleagues and public servants prepared to do the Government's bullying, whether they mismanage the task or not. Is this not hubris running amok?

There is growing concern that asylum seekers who accept the RPBV sign away their right to apply for another visa in the future. Commenting on the revised visa, Ian Rintoul from the NSW Refugee Action Coalition said on June 21: “Even for those who are stateless and face no foreseeable prospect of being removed from Australia, there is no future in this visa no travel or family re-union, no study — just more years of insecurity, more years in limbo.

As this blog suspected, the visa may be little more than a deportation agreement. It is valid only until the minister deems it practicable to remove them from Australia. This is a political fix but it won't afford asylum seekers the protection they need.

And, of course, the Palmer report's findings are no surprise writes Julian Burnside.

Tandberg in The Age

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Signing off for a week

School holidays are upon us and I am travelling afield - back with cues, views and reviews in a week.