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May 23, 2011

REFUGEE STATISTICS REVEAL BIAS AND POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN OFF-SHORE PROCESSING

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The Refugee Action Coalition today welcomed the release of more detailed statistics regarding asylum seekers and refugees, but says there is still a need for greater transparency of refugee processing.

“After looking at the statistics no-one can have any confidence in the off-shore determination process. The statistics starkly reveal what we have been saying all along: the off-shore processing system is seriously flawed. It is not independent and is clearly open to political interference. There is an obvious case for scrapping off-shore processing,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The most obvious sign of lack of independence is the high rate at which primary rejections are being overturned on appeal. Most dramatically 86 percent of rejected applications by Afghan asylum seekers are being overturned on appeal. That says that something is seriously wrong with the initial decisions being made by government appointees.

“The increased rejection rates between 2009-10 and 2010-11 can be attributed to the announced declaration at the time of the announced visa freeze on Sri Lankan and Afghan refugee applications, that the government expected rejection rates applying to Sri Lankans and Afghans would rise. The newly released figures show that the rejections rates of Afghans went from 22 per cent to 76 percent, after that announcement.

“No changes in country information can account for the fact that the top four countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka – have all seen more or less dramatic increases in the number of asylum seekers being rejected. The rejection rates are being driven by the government’s declared refugee agenda.

“There is no transparency of the decisions. The Refugee Review Tribunal is required to publish at least a selection of its decisions and they are available for public scrutiny. Nobody gets to see the decisions of the so-called independent reviewers.

“There is anecdotal evidence to say that there are also problems with some of the reviewers. Of fourteen recent Afghan cases in Curtin detention centre, twelve have been rejected by one particular reviewer. Two are still waiting for a decision.

“That takes a lot of explanation. A huge question mark hangs over the whole system. The obvious bias in the system is one of the reasons for the rising discontent in the detention centres.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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