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Wednesday 16 Aug 2017 | 23:38 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 16 Aug 2017 | 23:38 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: Morality and asylum seekers



20 August 2012 10:57

Below, a comment from Marilyn Shepherd. But first, Hugh Wyndham writes:

I must protest at the repetition, in a reputable publication, of the ill-informed errors contained in Rawdon Dalrymple's post.

The worst is the statement that 'there is no evidence they are seeking asylum from persecution or other danger'. Firstly, over 80% of boat people are eventually found to qualify for protection.

Secondly, from February 2011 to the end of June this year, I was part of the team reviewing negative departmental decisions on boat people. In that time, I interviewed well over a hundred boat people and can attest, firstly, to the rigour of the process through which they go before a final decision is made on their claims and, secondly, to the real dangers the great majority faced in the country from which they fled.

As to throwing away their identity documents, since many left their country of origin on false papers, having them in front of me would not have helped much. Many arrive with other identity papers or obtain them after arrival. Even if they were (or seemed to be) genuine, it would make little difference to the task of deciding whether they meet the requirements for a protection visa. In my view, too much is made of this issue. Very few boat people claim to be someone they are not. Besides, by the time claimants reached me and my colleagues, they had already been interviewed at least three times; the records (and often recordings) of previous interviews were available to us and we had as much time as we needed to interview the claimants ourselves before making up our minds on the claims being made. Issues regarding identity were very rare.

It does not help rational discussion of a very difficult policy problem (for which I believe there may be no good solution, only a least worst) to start on the basis of a complete misunderstanding of the facts.

Finally, I have a question. We are now going to upgrade the facilities on Manus and Nauru as accommodation for boat people pending assessment of their claims for protection. How are they going to get there? Presumably on Australian ships and boats. But from where? I assume we are not going to charter planes to be on stand-by at Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur airports to await the flights from Dubai. So, once they land in Malaysia and Indonesia, how do they get to Manus? We say we do not want them to take Indonesian fishing boats to Christmas Island, so what is the alternative for the next leg of their journey?

Marilyn Shepherd writes:

No matter how much people try and pretty it up, the so-called Expert Panel on asylum policy had no idea what they were doing and decided we should break every human rights law based on a lie.

The lie is that we have the right to arbitrarily expel and jail asylum seekers; we don't. If every country who has ratified the refugee convention did the same thing we would have genocide after genocide being committed again while the world watched on.

I despair that intelligent people simply refuse to understand that.

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