Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tamil asylum seeker wins court bid to stay

October 31, 2012

A Tamil asylum seeker who was about to be deported from Melbourne to Sri Lanka has won a last-minute reprieve from the Federal Court.

The 42-year-old man was supposed to leave this afternoon, after the court refused to grant him refugee status yesterday.

But an urgent appeal hearing in Sydney has resulted in a stay of his deportation.

The man was recently released into the community in Melbourne, after spending two-and-a-half years in detention.

But he was called to a meeting with immigration officials at the Maribyrnong detention centre last week and told he was being deported.

About 20 protesters scuffled with police at the gates to the detention centre, where they staged a sit-in.

The Refugee Action Collective says the man is terrified of returning to Sri Lanka because two of his brothers disappeared during the country’s civil war.

It says the man tried to harm himself overnight.

The Immigration Department has confirmed there was a case of self-harm, but it says that does not alter the outcome of asylum seeker claims.



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Filed under Courts and Legal Challenges, Deportation

Mainland removed from zone for asylum seekers

October 31, 2012

THE flow of asylum-seeker boats has surged by more than a third since the reintroduction of the Pacific solution, leading the government to adopt a further measure of excising the Australian mainland from the migration zone.

More than 5700 asylum seekers have arrived since August 13, the cut-off date from when the government has warned boat arrivals could be sent to Nauru or Manus Island for processing.

That compares to 4300 over the same period before the cut-off, a 39 per cent increase in boats and a 32 per cent increase in people.

Asylum seekersAsylum seekers to be sent offshore for processing … the recommendation to excise Australia from the migration zone was adopted by the government yesterday.

The Houston report commissioned by the government and released on August 13 warned that the Pacific solution alone would not stop the boats and all its recommendations should be implemented.


The recommendation to excise Australia from the migration zone was adopted by the government yesterday.

This means anyone who arrives on the Australian mainland by boat will be sent offshore for processing to Nauru or Manus Island.

Presently, they are processed onshore and receive bridging visas and limited work rights.

The measure was once so controversial that, six years ago, the Howard government backed off trying to introduce it following a revolt by Liberal moderates. In a sign of how the politics has changed, Labor’s Melissa Parke was the only person to voice concern when the legislation was put to caucus yesterday for approval. She questioned whether the move was consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

The Coalition slammed the government as hypocrites but is likely to support the legislation.

However, two Liberal moderates, Russell Broadbent and Judi Moylan, said they would cross the floor and not support it.

Since 2008, after Labor was elected, only 211 people have reached the mainland by boat whereas more than 28,200 have reached islands such as Christmas Island, which are already excised from the migration zone.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said excising the mainland was necessary because more people are expected to try to reach the mainland to avoid being sent to Nauru or Manus Island.

”These are difficult decisions for everybody but we do need to have in place a properly integrated system which says to people there’s a safer way of getting to Australia,” he said.

Mr Bowen also tabled legislation yesterday appropriating money for the $1.6 billion asylum seekers will cost the budget this financial year. This includes $1.2 billion in costs detailed in the midyear budget update last week and another $267 million taken from the contingency reserve for initial construction costs on Nauru and Manus Island.

Mr Bowen said excising the mainland did not contravene Australia’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention but refugee advocates were outraged.

The human rights lawyer Rachel Ball said the excision was without precedent for a country signed on to international conventions.

”Excision is an affront to justice and the rule of law,” she said.

The Labor Left is uncomfortable with the policy direction. Senior figures have sought a dialogue with Mr Bowen to ensure it is at least kept abreast of changes and can monitor them.

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Filed under Asylum Policy, Australian Government and Opposition

Asylum seeker boats on the rise since offshore policy

October 31, 2012

THE Gillard government’s new Pacific solution for asylum seekers has spectacularly failed to deter boat arrivals – with the rate of asylum seekers hitting Australia’s shores actually increasing in the months since Labor embraced offshore processing.

The government is scrambling with plans for globally unprecedented legal changes to toughen the deterrent – removing the mainland from the migration zone and effectively taking away the right for boat arrivals to claim asylum in Australia.

But the hardline message has so far failed. An analysis of boat arrivals in the weeks leading up to the adoption the Houston report shows a sharp rise of more than 1300 asylum seekers – or 30 per cent – compared with the 2½ months before.

More than 5700 asylum seekers have now arrived since August 13, the cut-off date from when the government has warned people could be sent for offshore processing.


That compares with 4300 over the same period before the cut-off – with the difference alone going close to filling the quota for asylum seekers on Nauru.

The government had declared in-principle support for all the recommendations of the panel into asylum seeker policy, led by former Defence chief Angus Houston.

But potential for asylum seekers to languish for years in the Pacific waiting for their claims to be decided has sparked serious concerns among refugee advocates and lawyers.

Human rights lawyer Rachel Ball said the plans to excise the mainland and deny asylum seekers the right to make refugee claims in Australia was unprecedented for a country signed on to international conventions.

”Excision is an affront to justice and the rule of law,” Ms Ball said.

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Filed under Analysis, Asylum Policy, PNG/Pacific Solution

Salvation Army defends Nauru asylum conditions

October 30, 2012

The Salvation Army has defended conditions inside the Australian Government’s offshore processing centre on Nauru.

The Christian group are providing services to asylum seekers and have given few interviews about its involvement in the offshore arrangements on Nauru.

On Tuesday it released a statement responding to peaceful protests by asylum seekers who have been taken to the Pacific island.

One detainee at the centre told the ABC asylum seekers are living in cramped conditions in tents, despite the searing heat.

He said suicide attempts were becoming a common theme at the centre.

The Salvation Army says there is ample and nutritious food at the processing centre and detainees have access to physical and mental health services.

It has acknowledged the heat is a constant drain but it says some common areas have air conditioning and fans are available elsewhere.

Over the weekend photographs have emerged showing asylum seekers engaged in a peaceful protest holding drawings of injured birds in cages.

The Salvation Army says many detainees are mostly concerned about having their asylum claim processed, and the Salvation Army has no role in that.

‘Government’s commitment’

Nauru and Papua New Guinea are the cornerstones of Australia’s new hardline on asylum seekers.

Detention centres are being re-opened in both countries in a move designed to send a message to potential asylum seekers that getting on a boat is no guarantee they will end up in Australia.

The Australian Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, has introduced two bills to Parliament for nearly $US1.7 billion to cover the cost of setting up immigration detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Mr Bowen says the money is already budgeted for in the mid-year economic outlook.

“No-one should doubt the government’s commitment to implementing the 22 recommendations of the expert panel to break the people smugglers business model and to help stop people dying at sea,” he said.

“This suite of measures is outlined in the panel’s recommendations is the only way we will begin to see a reduction in the rate of arrivals.”

Nearly 400 asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru since the offshore processing centre was re-opened last month by the government.


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Filed under Detention Centers, PNG/Pacific Solution

Asylum seekers fear being silenced

October 29, 2012

THE Immigration Department has halved internet access to asylum seekers on Nauru after a series of protests, with detainees claiming it is part of an effort to prevent them from contacting the media.

The decision to cut internet use from 30 minutes a day to 30 minutes every second day comes less than a week after The Age spoke via Skype to an asylum seeker on Nauru, the first such interview.

The department has said the reduction is not to limit access to the media, but rather to deal with an influx of detainees – whom the department refers to as ”clients”.

”Clients in detention facilities are free to contact the media whenever they like,” an Immigration spokesman said.


”Clients have 30 minutes of internet access every second day, due to more clients arriving on the island.”

The department also said the placement of a security guard – called a ”client services officer” – in the detention centre’s computer room was not to discourage detainees from contacting refugee advocates or the media, but ”to settle any disagreement between clients”.

These statements are in contrast to the claims of refugee advocates and the asylum seekers themselves, who say the presence of the security guard and the reduction of internet access are part of an effort to prevent them from speaking publicly.

Also yesterday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott suggested that the government could blow its entire budget surplus if it did not halt the boats.

In question time, Mr Abbott said that close to 6200 asylum seekers had arrived since July 1. That is well over the estimate of 450 a month provided by Immigration officials at a recent Senate estimates hearing.

He said last year the average cost to the state of each boat was $12.8 million and if only 85 more boats than projected arrived by June 30, 2013, the government’s entire surplus of $1.1 billion would be wiped out.


Filed under Detention Centers, PNG/Pacific Solution

Pictures | Asylum Seekers staged peaceful protest in Nauru detention centre

October 28, 2012

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Filed under Detention Centers, HAS Exclusive, PNG/Pacific Solution, Torturing and Health Issues

Asylum Seeker boat intercepted off south-east Ashmore Islands

October 27, 2012

Image Source: Google

An asylum seeker boat carrying 34 passengers has been intercepted south east of Ashmore Islands.

Our team has also noted that government officials have been very reluctant in releasing information about the new boat interceptions. Some friends from Christmas Island have also reported/confirmed the arrival of a boat carrying around 48 passengers near Christmas Island a few days ago, but an official statement about the boat is yet to appear on mainstream media.

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