Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Refugees in Australia - Q & A (iii) - What about refugees arriving without visas - are they Illegal entrants?

Think about this: Under International, as well as Australian, law a person is entitled to make an application for refugee asylum in another country when they claim they are fleeing persecution. This is a basic human right that all people are granted.

According to DIMIA, people are identified as arriving illegally in Australia if they "arrive with no travel documents or present documentation which is found to be fraudulent, but which they might have used for check-in at overseas airports".

It is important to remember that people who arrive on our shores seeking refugee status are not illegal. They are asylum seekers - a legal status under International Law. Many must leave their countries in haste and are thus unable to access appropriate documentation. In many cases oppressive authorities, such as those in Iran and Iraq, actively prevent normal exit from their countries. They hold 'blacklists' of those speaking out against the government in the name of freedom and prevent them from freely leaving their country. Given the chaotic nature of those fleeing human rights abuses, refugees often have no real choice but to arrive in Australian without proper documentation in order to seek safety.

If asylum seekers in detention are illegal, they should be formerly charged with an offence, appear before a judge and be found guilty before a jury of committing an offence. This process never occurs, asylum seekers are detained without the right to have a judicial body review their incarceration.

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