Vanstone's 28 days detention limit doesn't undo DIMIA powers

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

Vanstone's 28 days detention limit doesn't undo DIMIA powers

Media Release
Saturday February 26 2005 8:25am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone's announcement of this morning that she has determined a 28-day limit for' detention of people suspected of being 'illegal immigrants' doesn't undo the sheer unlimited powers granted to her Departmental officers", Project SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit said this morning, "and calling in 'Canberra' for complex cases is a whitewash to keep these powers vested in public servants or Mr Howard's political realm."

"When the police apprehends someone suspected of having committed a crime, they can be held for 24 hours."

"When someone is suspected of being linked to, or having information about, a terrorist organisation, they can be held - incommunicado if need be - for a maximum of seven days."

Yet public servants of the Department of Immigration (DIMIA) can hold people - without any scrutiny - forever under this arrangement, if it is only 'Canberra' that decides what needs to be done 'in complex cases'.

"Nothing but an application to an Australian Court, right at the outset, to hold someone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, will resemble justice in a democracy. Public servants working for DIMIA should have less, and not more powers than State or Federal police, and their discretion without scrutiny by the courts should not be trusted."

For more information:

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

Rau case moves Vanstone to change detention rules

Saturday, February 26, 2005. 10:12am (AEDT)

The Federal Government has changed Immigration Department procedures as a direct result of the detention of Australian resident Cornelia Rau for four months in the Baxter detention centre in South Australia.

Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone says there is now a 28-day limit on the time people could be held in prison, a watch-house or similar state corrections facility, if they are suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

Detainees will be fingerprinted, there will be stronger procedures to establish the person's identity, and complex cases will be referred to Canberra for guidance where identity or status cannot be confirmed within 28 days.

Senator Vanstone says she is not pre-empting any recommendations that the inquiry by former Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Mick Palmer might make but she says it is clear there are changes that can be quickly made.

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