Sack Ruddock, sack ACM, start Judicial Inquiry and Royal Commission

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130

Sack Ruddock, sack ACM, start Judicial Inquiry and Royal Commission

Media Release
Monday 19 May 2003 - 22:30 WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Sack Ruddock, sack ACM, start Judicial Inquiry and Royal Commission, compensate horrendous damage, refugee group says

WA based refugee group Project Safecom calls for the immediate cancellation of the immigration detention contract between DIMIA and ACM after the Four Corners' Program "Secrets of Woomera" of Monday May 19, during which almost a dozen former Australasian Correctional Management staff exposed in filmed statements their former employers' extremely corrupt dealings with DIMIA.

"And since the company who has recently been awarded the contract to operate detention centres, Group4 Falck, is clearly no longer interested in the running of detention centres after selling its 57% stake in Wackenhut Corporation in the beginning of May, we have no other option than the immediate release into the community of all detainees in Australia's detention centres", spokesman Mr Jack Smit said.

"We can finally confirm what detainees, psychologists and psychiatrists, Human Rights Watch a United Nations Envoy and thousands of refugee advocates have tried to tell the Australian government for years: that Australia's policies cause permanent damage to all asylum seekers, not because of their desperation, but because of the vileness of mandatory detention itself."

"We accuse the Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock of extreme, ongoing, and deliberate callous disregard of expert advice and countless reports by those who have authority to deliver those reports."

"We also accuse Ruddock of extreme deceit of the Australian public in his thousands of media appearances, and we accuse him - as the Minister responsible for the wellbeing of asylum seekers, of torturing human beings, and of having callous disregard of what befalls them."

"Ruddock has shown himself being entirely inept of carrying out his duty, resulting in permanent trauma, not only to hundreds of asylum seekers, but also to ACM staff who worked at the Woomera detention centre".

"Ruddock has kept himself credible for years by half-truths, denial of what hundreds of experts have told him, by blaming detainees and causing ACM to blame detainees for what happened in Woomera. In his denial Ruddock has shown his contempt for human lives, and he must be sacked immediately", Mr Smit said.

"Howard has mishandled the accusations of child abuse by the Governor General, now we see that one of his Ministers is complicit in covering up the abuse of children in detention centres he is ultimately responsible for and in which the children who are locked up are his legal responsibility. Howard must sack Ruddock," Project SafeCom's Grant van Riessen said.

Peter Wilkie of the Perth Refugee Rights Action group stated: "The Howard government now needs to urgently be asking itself how it can start to make undone what its gross human rights abuses have done to the thousands of asylum seekers who sought Australia's help, but instead were traumatised."

Project SafeCom calls for:

  • The immediate and irrevocable sacking of the Minister for Immigration Philip Ruddock;

  • The immediate cancellation of ACM as the service provider in detention centres;

  • The immediate release into community care with the assistance of the many families and caring people such as those amongst Australians for Refugees, and Spare Rooms for Refugees and many others who will show themselves to be prepared to take in refugees - and the granting of permanent residency in Australia to all those released asylum seekers;

  • The immediate granting of full Medicare eligibility, sickness benefits, and a generous top-up allowance for all those on bridging visas and TPV's so the hundreds of traumatised people from detention centres can start having a life and can start healing their trauma's at the hand of this horrendous treatment, only comparable to concentration camps in WW2;

  • The immediate psychiatric assessment and the start of psychotherapy or other forms of personal therapy of all refugees, those who were in the past in detention centres like Woomera as well as those who up till the present day lived in detention - with full funding and compensation provided by the government as long as this is needed;

  • Full assistance by the Howard government in the legal cases of all Australians who have worked for ACM against this company;

  • The immediate installation of a Royal Commission, not just into the running of the now closed Woomera IRC, but also of the hell in Baxter and all other asylum centres, including those under the "Pacific Solution";

"Only with the above measures", said Mr Smit, "can Australia start to restore its good name in the international community, and start to turn over a new leaf in which it once again is a respected country with regards to how it treats those most vulnerable in its society."

For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

Grant van Riessen
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

Peter Wilkie
Perth Refugee Rights Action Network
[phone number posted]

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