Investigation into the fate of deported people
Reports of death, disappearance, imprisonment and torture, of fear-filled lives spent in hiding, privation and despair have filtered back to Australia about some people Australia has removed after disallowing their claims for protection on refugee or humanitarian grounds.
Disquiet about this situation was expressed to the 2000 Senate Committee by bodies such as HREOC (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission), Amnesty International, the Australian Refugee Council and various legal aid and trauma treatment organisations.
In 2002 a coalition of religious groups, COPAS, including leaders from the major Christian denominations, Jewish, Moslem and Buddhist groups, petitioned the Federal Government to heed the reports of terrible things happening to some deportees and cease sending people to countries where protection of their safety and rights is very problematic. The study reported here was designed to clarify the situation behind this widespread disquiet.
Following significant disquiet expressed by a range of organisations at a 2000 Senate Inquiry, the Edmund Rice Centre's Phil Glendenning, along with Sr Carmel Leavey, Mrs Margaret Hetherton and Dr Tony Morris from the Australian Catholic University commenced an investigation into the fate of asylum seekers deported from Australia.
The results have been disturbing with evidence of false documentation and asylum seekers left in unsafe environments, often outside the law of the country they are returned to.
The information uncovered by this research has led to the publication of several reports; submissions and testimony given to Federal parliamentary enquiries; public meetings; investigations by Federal police into allegations of illegal actions by immigration officials; extensive media coverage; and most recently production of a documentary film.