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
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
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