Sunday, May 01, 2005

Archival Rescue 22 ~ Aus Detention

More cogs from Australia's detention system float to the top of Howard's slop bucket (questions remain, where could these people have possibly been deported too? And what happened to them there?) ;

Immigration admits citizen deported
By Frank Walker, May 1, 2005 The Sun-Herald

The Federal Government has expanded its inquiry into immigration detention centres after discovering it had deported an Australian citizen four years ago and also wrongly held several other Australians in detention.

The cases have been passed to former Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer, who is conducting a closed inquiry into the 10-month detention of Australian permanent resident Cornelia Rau, which included four months at the top-security Baxter centre in South Australia.

Acting Immigration Minister Peter McGauran said yesterday the Immigration Department only became aware of the deportation of an Australian citizen when it was contacted by a family member after the revelations of the Rau case.

"In one instance, four years ago, a person subsequently found to be an Australian citizen was removed from Australia," Mr McGauran said in a statement.

His office refused to release any details such as where the person was deported to, how long they were deported for and whether they returned to Australia.

Mr McGauran said several other cases had emerged since the Rau case in which Australian citizens or people lawfully in Australia had been locked up in immigration detention centres.

They had come to light during an internal departmental review of detention cases between July 2002 and February this year.

"To protect the privacy of individuals the Government does not propose to release further details of individual cases," Mr McGauran said.

He said as they raised issues similar to those in the Rau case, it was best if they were referred to Mr Palmer to include in his investigation.

A ministerial spokesman said Australians could have been detained if they were under suspicion of being in the country unlawfully and could not produce identification. They would have been recorded as wrongfully detained if it had been a few minutes, a month or years.

He said data from the department indicated some situations where Australians may have been held. "We don't know if that is factually correct or not, whether there was a departmental error or reporting errors of how those people were recorded in the system.

"Small numbers of people are from time to time held. Under the act any departmental officer can hold somebody in detention if they think they are in the country unlawfully."

Mr Palmer's inquiry is due to be completed by the end of May.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone will ask Mr Palmer after she returns from overseas on Friday whether he needs more time to examine the new cases.

He said the department would look into its records before 2002 if Mr Palmer thought it was necessary.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the department statement was a shocking revelation.

"We always knew what they did was bad, but their willingness to act in this way without fully knowing what they are doing is astounding," he said.

"This proves there should be a royal commission into the detention centres and the way the department detains people, rather than holding an inquiry behind closed doors."


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