Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Archival Rescue 23 ~ Aus Detention

More news from Australia's "immigration" camps;

Wrongly deported Australian sparks fury
May 1, 2005 - 3:44pm AAP Sydney Morning Herald

Revelations an Australian woman wrongly deported four years ago is missing overseas have reignited calls for a public inquiry into immigration detention.

Acting Immigration Minister Peter McGauran admitted a search was under way for the woman - who he would not identify for privacy reasons - after the immigration department received a concerned letter from a family member.

"There's a specific - a particularly disturbing - case where an individual was removed from Australia," Mr McGauran told the Seven network.

"A family member has contacted us and we're now inquiring into that," he said.

"The individual is still overseas and we're attempting to locate the individual and we're liaising with the family," he said.

On Saturday, he announced an extension of the closed government inquiry into the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau - a diagnosed schizophrenic who spent 10 months locked up before she was released in February.

The inquiry, led by former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Palmer, would examine the details of the new case and others unearthed in a search of the Department of Immigration's records over the past three years.

But the circumstances surrounding this one woman were particularly disturbing and he could see no reason why she was deported, Mr McGauran said.

"(This) one particular individual that is overseas and is an Australian citizen ... should, on the face of it, not ever have been removed from Australia."

The Australian Democrats said the case proved there was an appalling lack of transparency and accountability in the immigration detention process.

"It shows that there's an appalling degree of accountability and checks and balances," Democrats immigration spokesman Andrew Bartlett said.

But instances such as this were inevitable under the government's current system.

"It's almost inevitable when you have a law that gives such enormous power to bureaucrats ... to be able to jail people without any legal proceedings," he said.

Labor renewed its calls for a full public inquiry into the matter and accused the government of hiding behind an investigation with very little clout.

"From day one, (Prime Minister John) Howard has manufactured an inquiry where powers are limited," opposition immigration spokesman Laurie Ferguson told AAP.

Some refugee advocates have gone further, however.

Nothing less than a royal commission could examine both the Cornelia Rau case and that of the deported woman, the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) of NSW said.

RAC campaigner Ian Rintoul said referring the deportation to the Palmer inquiry was an attempt by the government to keep the matter secret.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, who is overseas until May 9, said no further information would be released about the deportee at this stage.

He also refused to say how many cases the immigration department had discovered of wrongful detention over the last three years.

A Senate estimates committee last year found 33 people detained in the eight months to March, 2004 by the department were found not to be unlawful immigrants.


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