Edmund Rice Centre Director Phil Glendenning wrote this letter to The Australian in response to claims made by Minister for Immigration Amanda Vanstone about the Centre's work:
THE Minister for Immigration claimed that the findings of the report "Deported To Danger" published by the Edmund Rice Centre (ERC) and Australian Catholic University (ACU) could not be corroborated and that ERC and ACU had not co-operated with DIMIA (Letters 14-15/5). Both claims are wrong.
The ERC and ACU strongly stand by the validity of the report and its findings on the basis of research which involved 40 case studies of rejected asylum-seekers living in 11 countries. It includes first hand accounts in the very locations in which the deported people are living in danger. Supportive documentary evidence of the actions of DIMIA in the shape of false documents and misleading airline tickets reportedly purchased by DIMIA itself have also been presented to the department. The report found that 35 of the 40 asylum seekers were living in danger. Contrary to what the minister has said, the report makes no mention of four people being killed.
The interim report of September 2003 and the final report of October 2004 were forwarded to DIMIA before they were published. ERC continues to co-operate with DIMIA, even though this has never been acknowledged or recognised by the minister publicly. Clearly, the government does not monitor people removed from Australia and therefore cannot guarantee the safety of the people it removes. DIMIA urgently needs to reform to make sure Australia does not harm people and is accountable to its international obligations.