25 March 2011

Australia Immigration assessment of refugee claims in question

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New figures have revealed that more than half of all failed refugee claims are being overturned on review, suggesting there are major inconsistencies in the way asylum cases are being assessed by Australia immigration officials.

Australia immigration

High approval of refugee claims on appeal has called into question the Australia immigration department's processes.

According to Australia Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, 55 per cent of failed asylum claims got up on review last month.

Refugee lawyer David Manne said the high overturn rate suggested there were "fundamental, systemic flaws" in the refugee processing regime.

"The consequence of this is that many people found to be genuine refugees are being held in detention for far longer than necessary and being harmed in the process," Mr Manne said.

A spokesman for Mr Bowen said decisions about refugee applications were made "independently and on a case-by-case basis".

"This government recognises the importance of a process that includes proper and robust assessment of asylum claims in line with our obligations under the Refugee Convention, and then deals with those whose claims are rejected," the spokesman said.

Afghans have traditionally comprised the single largest category of asylum-seeker coming to Australia by boat, and the overturn rate for Afghans was slightly lower than the average at 49 per cent.
The figures are for the month leading up to March 14.

The Australia Immigration department has previously said the inconsistencies between first-instance decision makers and reviewers could be because fresh information can become available on review.

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