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Jesuit says terrorists don't arrive on refugee boats

Lawyer and human rights advocate Fr Frank Brennan has suggested it's not surprising that the Al Qaeda operative Willie Virgile Brigitte came to Australia on a tourist visa and not as a boat person.

Brigitte is a 35 year old French national who is believed to have trained terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was deported to France last month after Australian authorities detained him for breaching his tourist visa.

"He was never eligible for upstream disruption or mandatory detention," said Fr Brennan. "No terrorist has come by boat with wife and children and without a visa."

This week Fr Brennan is launching a book that scrutinises Australia's rationale for what he calls its discriminatory treatment of asylum seekers that is practised "in the name of national security".

The book, titled Tampering with Asylum: A Universal Humanitarian Problem, compares Australia's treatment of asylum seekers with that of the United States and European nations.

Fr Brennan regularly visits detention centres in Woomera, Port Hedland and Baxter. After visiting Baxter last week, he said that the situation was getting "more desperate". Father Brennan has just returned from a study tour which took him to meetings with UN and international NGO refugee officials in Europe and North America. In Geneva, he attended the Executive Meeting of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The book will be launched tomorrow at the National Press Club. This will be followed by separate launches in the mainland state capitals throughout November.

Time for Government to stop "tampering with asylum" (Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre)

Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre
Who is Willie Virgile Brigitte? (Sydney Morning Herald 29/10/03)
Last-minute cancellation of Jesuit's visa to Nauru raises concerns (8/8/03)
Jesuit welcomes High Court 'fair go' asylum seeker appeal ruling (6/2/03)
National Press Club | Speakers | Biography

4 Nov 2003