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Catholic 'false passport' claims spark inquiry calls

The Sydney-based Edmund Rice justice centre has told Federal Police that it is ready to provide investigators witih evidence that immigration officials urged asylum seekers to get false passports so they could be deported.

Following allegations aired on ABC TV's Lateline on Monday night, Edmund Rice Centre Director Phil Glendenning (pictured) has flown to Geneva to put his concerns about deported asylum seekers to a United Nations refugees forum.

The centre says it has evidence against officials from Australasian Correctional Management, which runs detention centres, and the Immigration Department.

It says asylum seekers who faced deportation but who were still in detention were urged to get false passports to get out of Australia more quickly.

The Edmund Rice Centre was founded by the Christian Brothers to conduct and encourage research into the causes of poverty and inequity in society. It has produced a range of resources for use in education such as Debunking the Myths about Asylum Seekers

Greens Senator Bob Brown has referred the allegations to the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty.

Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett said he would ask members of the Senate's "cash for visas" Committee on Ministerial Discretion in Migration Matters to consider broadening its inquiries to look at Mr Glendenning's claims that immigration officials have been "people smuggling" in reverse.

Alternately, he said, a separate Senate inquiry could investigate the allegations, made to Mr Glendenning by six asylum seekers deported from Australia to Syria.

Committee hearings had already revealed that the department "is not transparent at all on how decisions get made in one case or another," he said.

The Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, in Geneva for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees forum, was unavailable for comment, his spokesman said yesterday.

The claims were being assessed and there would be a more formal inquiry if there was "specific evidence" to support them.

Sydney Morning Herald

Edmund Rice Centre | Debunking the Myths about Asylum Seekers
Ruddock was told of 'misconduct' (The Australian)
'Forged passports' inquiry demand
Passport to a state of limbo (Sydney Morning Herald)
Asylum seekers told to get false passports: activists (Sydney Morning Herald)
Police to be called in over forged passport claims (Sydney Morning Herald)
Greens want passport claims probed (The Age)
Australia in smuggling claim (Courier-Mail)
Allegations over false passports (Sydney Morning Herald)
Allegations that Immigration Department issued false passports (ABC Radio PM)
Margo Kingston: Phil's sublime spin magicians - a case study (Sydney Morning Herald)
Govt urged to investigate false passport claims (ABC)
Allegations that Immigration Department issued false passports (ABC Radio PM)
Immigration using smuggling tactics to evict asylum seekers (ABC TV Lateline 29/9/03)
Greens demand a police inquiry into passport claims (ABC Radio AM)
Immigration officials accused of people smuggling (ABC Radio AM)

31 Oct 2003