Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Immigration Officials Getting it Wrong in Australia

According to this article there are significant numbers of errors occurring in the processing of claims for asylum in Australia. Two thirds of the asylum seekers challenging the rejection of their claims for refugee status in the federal court have had their challenges upheld on the basis that the department had made legal errors or failed to exercise fairness. In the majority of those cases, the department admitted to the errors before the legal proceedings were completed.

There are over two hundred more cases waiting to be heard.

This number is obviously unacceptably high. For asylum seekers to make a court challenge to a decision by Australian government officials requires them to overcome significant barriers, such as lack of knowledge of the Australian legal and immigration systems, backgrounds in countries where they may be accustomed to having limited rights, language difficulties and the anxiety and self doubt brought on by long periods of imprisonment in immigration detention centers. There must surely be large numbers of injustices that are not challenged in the court system and no doubt many asylum seekers give up or accept unsatisfactory decisions out of fatigue, frustration or lack of comprehension.

The current system is absolutely unacceptable. It would be far more fare and humane if asylum seekers could at least get on with their lives and live among the rest of us while their claims are processed. That would cost less than detaining them and would give them access to friends, supporters and other services we citizens take for granted.

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