Government back down: Tamils slated for removal are screened in

In a dramatic turn around, the Federal government has agreed to screen-in 56 Tamils who were due to be removed to Sri Lanka yesterday, Tuesday 4 December. The 56 Tamil men presently being held in Darwin’s Northern Immigration Detention Centre will now be able to make their protection visa claims in the usual way.

However, the agreement means that the government has avoided having its screening out process being scrutinized by the High Court and that the High Court hearing that had been scheduled for 9.30 Thursday will now not take place.

“This has been a victory for the 56 men who had been denied justice by the federal government,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “But others in detention still remain potential victims of the dubious practice.”

“There are already a list of six Tamils in Wickham Point who have been told they have been screened out and will be removed. We are seeking further legal action to protect them,” said Rintoul.

“The government has lot of explaining to do,” Rintoul added, “It has been desperate to avoid the court and any public scrutiny of its screening out process. It has virtually admitted that it cannot defend the way in which screening out decisions are being made.

“Now the government has to act to ensure that safety of those deported as a result of the dubious screening out interviews. There are around 35 Tamils in Sri Lanka’s Negombo jail because they had been screened out and sent back to Sri Lanka on Friday 30 November.

“The Australian ambassador should be instructed to attend Negombo jail to ensure that all those jailed by the Rajapaksa regime after being returned from Australia are safe and that they are immediately released and given Australian government protection.

“The government must now abandon its screening out process and allow all asylum seekers to make their claims for asylum through the usual channels.

“Chris Bowen’s version of turning the boats around has been exposed as an abuse of human rights. Just like re-opening Nauru and Manus Island, Chris Bowen is now tarred with yet another shameful Liberal Party policy. We are committed to fighting this case by case if we have to.

“But John Howard abandoned his shady screening out regime once it was exposed; Chris Bowen should do the same.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

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