Friday December 19, 2008 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"This morning the Immigration Minister Chris Evans will issue a statement, declaring that he has been forced to open John Howard's $400 million House of Horrors on Christmas Island as a result of the recent influx of asylum boats - but what he will fail to tell Australians, is that he himself has lacked the moral courage to have his Department formulate and issue First Stage Bridging Visas to those asylum seekers whose health and identity checks and initial claims interviews are completed, so they can settle into the community on the mainland and make place for the more recent arrivals," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said.
"Harsh and merciless Immigration policies do not exit the Middle Ages just because the name of the Prime Minister is Kevin Rudd and because the name of the Immigration Minister no longer is Philip Ruddock or Amanda Vanstone," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Chris Evans has been terrific in his good intentions, but no policies, frameworks, strategies have been backed by legislation, because he is incapable of directing his own department."
"It has been very clear that the "Seven New Principles" of Immigration detention, broadcast loudly by Chris Evans at Australian National University in August, arguing that there is no need for detention of those who do not pose a national security risk after initial security and health checks and where the initial asylum claims interviews are completed, have not been implemented by issuing new style bridging visas."
"Chris Evans and his Department now have many people of the first couple of boatloads that arrived on Christmas Island who fall within this category, yet they remain in detention, even if that is called "community detention".
"Chris Evans has squarely failed his own moral courage and give these people a bridging visa, so they can fly to the Australian mainland and find jobs and accommodation and community organisations that support them. Dozens of European Convention countries have this courage in the face of many more arrivals than Australia ever has."
"So, even if he issues dozens of Mea Culpa statements while locking up asylum seekers in a facility designed for mass murderers, he is the Immigration Minister who commits himself to this form of incarceration, simply because he lacks the guts to come good on his intent as expressed a few months ago in his lecture at ANU."
"It is Chris Evans who keeps Immigration detention and the Immigration Department in the Middle Ages, and it's not Ruddock, John Howard or Amanda Vanstone," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]