REVEALED TODAY: In 2013, the Immigration Department under Minister Scott Morrison attempted to prevent legitimate refugees from being granted their approved permanent protection visas while the government rushed through policy changes to prohibit stateless vulnerable people from ever being able to permanently resettle in Australia.
The ABC has been able to access federal cabinet documents that show that Immigration Minister Morrison was advised by his department that up to 700 asylum seekers “must” be granted permanent protection, but that Morrison prioritised “mitigation strategies” so that these hundreds of victims of war, persecution and/or violence would not be given their legal rights to have their applications processed within the required time parameters. And so that ultimately they could NEVER be granted the security and freedom to which they have always been entitled.
At that time, the federal government was rushing through the legislation changes that would prevent any asylum seekers who arrived by boat from ever being granted permanent protection in Australia. So to ensure that people close to being granted permanent protection would miss the deadline, the Minister signed off on tactics to slow the process which included:
- requesting ASIO delay security checks and
- reissuing orders to the Administrative Appeals and Refugee Review Tribunals to hear cases in a different order that they had previously been instructed
When the news broke today, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) said the minister’s direction had showed an “utter disregard for the law”, and torn families apart. His legal obligation to make decisions on refugee applications within 90 days was rarely met, with most taking 3-5 yrs and some people STILL waiting for a final outcome.
The Guardian has reported that one man who fled Taliban persecution in Afghanistan – and so was recognised as a refugee – experienced an extraordinary delay in processing his visa which meant that he was granted only a temporary visa (an anomaly in international refugee law). A permanent protection visa would have entitled him to, one day, reunite with his wife and three young children sheltering in Pakistan. Under the current regime, this man will never be able to live with his family again.
He has never met his youngest child.
“It has basically impacted everything in my life … my relationship, my social life, my ability to get work, more importantly my own health, especially my mental health. …I can’t concentrate properly as I could before because of worrying about my family and the uncertainty of my future. I haven’t seen my family for nine years.”
These strategies are not simply in the past.
The ongoing pattern of the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees by Australian governments that began with the Tampa Affair is perpetuated today – with new and more cruel steps regularly taken that continue to astound international experts on immigration and human rights law who have long been scathing about Australia’s practices.
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