Friday, June 28, 2013

Carr complains that tribunals Rudd stacked are too soft on boat people | Herald Sun Andrew Bolt Blog

Carr complains that tribunals Rudd stacked are too soft on boat people | Herald Sun Andrew Bolt Blog

Reader Samantha Whybrow, a former visa officer at our High Commission in Sri Lanka, writes:

I hope you can spare time to read of my frustrating experiences as a visa officer at the Australian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka....

I should say from the beginning that I am not a disgruntled ex-employee who was sacked.  I made a decision to resign from the department due to a difference in ethics on the issues I describe below. 

In February 2012 the Regional Director for DIAC in South Asia ....  told me “it does not matter if even 90% of humanitarian claims turn out to be false because the numbers are so small."…

At the time of his statement I had just spent at least 30 minutes in a meeting with him detailing the strong concerns I held with regard to the integrity of the humanitarian visa programme. 

These concerns arose from interviews I had conducted with spouses/family members of humanitarian visa recipients that strongly indicated a visa had been granted on the basis of false information given to the department. 

I had previously presented my concerns to diplomatic staff at the High Commission, to then Deputy Secretary (Jackie Wilson) on her visit to Sri Lanka around November 2011, as well as to then Minister Chris Bowen (whom I met ... in February 2012). 

In my interviews with family members of people granted humanitarian visas (who were then applying for visas themselves) I asked why their family member had gone to Australia. 

In a large number of cases I was provided with responses such as, “the gem business was not good”, “I don’t know”, “business was not good”, “our children are in Australia”, “Australia is giving visas for Sri Lankans”.

When I compared these statements with the statements the humanitarian visa recipient had made to officials in Australia I found extraordinary contradictions that lead me to strongly believe the (humanitarian) claim had been fabricated. 

In one case a woman informed the department in her claim that she had been beaten in front of her husband, yet her husband stated no such events ever took place and they just didn’t want to live in Sri Lanka anymore so when his wife got a tourist visa to see their grandchild their daughter told her to apply for a visa to stay.

In another extraordinary case a woman claimed she had been thrown in jail for some time and had to escape, yet her family told me no one in the family had ever been bothered by the police or security forces at all and certainly had never been in jail. 

One man told the department he had been a member of a political party and beaten because of this, however his wife (who was also his cousin and thus knew him from childhood) informed me he had never belonged to any such party and had never had troubles with the government.

In a concerning number of cases the wives of humanitarian visa recipients informed me they had no idea where their husband was or what he was doing in the preceding three years coinciding with the escalation in conflict. 

These wives provided very limited information regarding their husbands’ whereabouts and activities during that time, leading me to question whether they were the spouse at all and creating great concern amongst staff that they were concealing illegal activities.
There were many more such instances. 

Over a period of two and a half years I continued to report these instances to senior (immigration) staff at the High Commission.  I continued to get frustrated that no one in higher authority gave me direction in how to investigate the matter further or what to do about it.  I was told to keep a list although no one ever asked to look at my list. 

I was informed by senior staff in the High Commission that I shouldn’t get so worried and that the police had to deal with this sort of frustration all of the time in the course of their work…

In the mean-time, while I was coming across a large number of suspect claims, I was also continuing to refuse any application for asylum that came from Sri Lankans still living in Sri Lanka—having been informed that it was not politically expedient to be granting visas to people still living in their home country. 

[The] comment that it wouldn’t matter if 90% of humanitarian claims were false (because the numbers were so small) was made in February 2012.  Over the next few months I believe almost as many or more Sri Lankans arrived in Australia to claim asylum than in the previous three years combined despite an overall improvement in the country situation.

I believe that situation was entirely foreseeable given the understanding amongst the applicants I spoke to that Australia had ‘visas for Sri Lankans’ and that the department was not interested in investigating claims that appeared—on the basis of new and relevant information—to be false. 

I also believe it is likely that this type of scenario is not isolated to Sri Lanka. 

 Keep these fucking scum out of the country.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...