Saturday, 25 October 2008

Immigration officials should face action

A former human rights commissioner says Immigration Department officials who breached human rights under the Howard government need to face disciplinary action.

Cultural problems in the department were identified in several inquiries into detention conditions and illegal deportations.

Dr Sev Ozdowski, who is now at the University of Western Sydney, says the politicians have left government but it is not known whether public servants who still deal with asylum seekers meet required ethical standards.

"There was systemic problems and it's very difficult to put it under carpet and say 'now we provide better training for our officers and now the Government is telling us that we should behave better, so we are behaving better'," he said.

"We won't fix it unless we address the issue."

Dr Ozdowski told a parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention that the Government's move to make detention a last resort is welcome, but it needs to become law.

He says assessments of staff over past wrongful detention or deportations would ensure Immigration Department culture does change.

"I think they should be verified by the public service as to whether they are fit to serve in the Australian public service," he said.

Dr Ozdowski says it would not be a witch-hunt, but it could change a culture where overzealous public servants did not provide fearless and unbiased advice to the Howard government.


Compensation for wrongful detentions

The Federal Government may compensate as many as 191 people for wrongfully holding them in immigration detention centres, a parliamentary hearing was told on Tuesday.

Detention centre staff 'cracked'
More than 60 former staff at Australian immigration detention centres have reported long-term mental health problems associated with the stress of the job.

UN Torture Committee Blasts Australia
In its report on Australia, the Torture Committee was critical of Australia's prisons, counter-terrorism laws, mandatory immigration detention and of the way Australian officials have ignored torture and mistreatment overseas in places like Abu Ghraib.

Doctor urges mandatory detention inquiry

A psychiatrist who has treated immigration detainees says former government ministers should be called to account for the policy of mandatory detention.

Refugees highest level in history: UN

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says there are more displaced people in the world than at any time in history, with the bulk of them coming from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Detainees climb Villawood roof in deportation protest

The Department of Immigration has confirmed two Chinese nationals have climbed on to the roof of Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre.

Visas offered to 31 in long detention

The federal government is offering visas to 31 people who have been in immigration detention for more than two years.

Evans unveils new border security measures
Immigration Minister Chris Evans says new border security measures at international airports and sea ports will strengthen Australia's security. The new system will allow immigration officials to assess passengers' data before their flight or ship arrives in Australia.

1000 refugees receive protection, not detention
MOHAMMAD DAWLAT HUSSAIN is among 1000 refugees who can apply for family members to join them in Australia after the Federal Government scrapped temporary protection visas in Tuesday night's budget.

Georgiou repeats call to scrap citizenship test
Liberal backbencher Petro Georgiou says Australia's controversial new citizenship test should not just be reviewed - it should be scrapped altogether. Immigration Minister Chris Evans says he has no plans to abolish the Howard Government-era test, but he is open to making improvements.

Corrupt immigration officer jailed
A senior Immigration Department officer received free overseas holidays and business-class airfaires for approving more than 100 applications for illegal Chinese immigrants.

Payouts to former detainee's likely
THE Department of Immigration has paid $620,000 to eight former detainees and has written to more than 130 others to say they may be next in line for compensation.

Visas offered to 31 in long detention
The federal government is offering visas to 31 people who have been in immigration detention for more than two years.

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