A rebuttal to Douglas Spencer’s misleading letter about Refugee Convention | Correcting Mr. Douglas Spence

This rebuttal letter has been written by Miss Frederika E. Steen against Douglas Spencers’ letter published on Herald Sun on September 08, 2012.

Frederika Steen has served as a delegate for Ministry of Immigration, Australia during 1984-2001. She is a passionate advocate and Refugee/Human rights activist.

We are publishing this letter for our readers in its actual form as we received it.

Correcting Mr. Douglas Spence

Frederika Steen (Image Courtesy: Google)

The Minister for Immigration should correct Douglas Spence ( letters 8/9 ) and confirm that under the Migration Act 1958 and amendments,  Australia is obligated to comply with the  1951 UN Refugee Convention  signed by RG Menzies. The international law is drawn down into domestic law through Section 36 of the Act , which says  that “ a criterion for a  Protection visa is that the applicant for a visa  is a non-citizen in Australia to whom the Minister is satisfied Australia has protection obligations under the Refugees Convention as amended by the Protocol”.

Why does Mr Spence think Australian governments have not, and will not, turn back Sri Lankan and other  asylum seekers arriving by boat or by plane without first granting protection  in response to  their claims of persecution? Howard’s  clandestine and illegal return in 2001  of six boats and their passengers to Indonesia  remained unchallenged then, but never again. To push off , pull up the draw bridge  or repel asylum seekers in any way  is “refoulement” and a specific breach of the Convention.

Australia is legally required to assess all  claims of persecution. Manifestly unfounded claims can be done quickly.  That we keep potential refugees  in indefinite  detention and deny their personal liberties and  their right to work is  an appalling denial of decency and universal human rights. Mandatory indefinite detention is  overreaction to minimal  security risk. The Government’s positive  move to community detention and Bridging Visas for asylum seekers is welcome.

Frederika E.Steen (Former Immigration Officer )

15 Accrington Place

Chapel Hill

Queensland 4069

07 37201885

Here is part of the letter of Douglas Spencer which had been published on Herald Sun,

Frederika Steen (Letters, Sep 6) is equally incorrect in stating that turning Sri Lankan asylum seekers back is in clear breach of the UN Refugee Convention.

Like many impassioned advocates, she has obviously not read the Convention and its 1967 Protocol. There is no relevant Article identifying where Australia may assess the status of claimed refugees.

– Douglas Spence, Annerley

This letter was published was here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/letters-protecting-children-is-everyones-duty/story-fndo45r1-1226467596725


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Filed under HAS Exclusive, Human Rights and Refugee Activists, UNHCR

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