Bishop Grech welcomes new Govt policy on Iranian asylum seekers
Bishop Joseph Grech has welcomed reports that the Federal Government is no longer forcing failed Iranian asylum seekers to return home to possible persecution.
According to The Age on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone yesterday broke with the policy stand of her predecessor Philip Ruddock, declaring she is not prepared to deport failed Iranian asylum seekers.
Bishop Grech, of the Victorian country diocese of Sandhurst, is Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees. He was responding to a report yesterday that Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said it is not the government's intention to return anybody needing continuing protection to a situation where their life is at risk.
Bishop Grech said the government should be commended for its humane policy shift.
"I have just returned from a visit of the Baxter Detention Centre with the Bishop of Port Pirie, Eugene Hurley and I've met these people and talked to them about their plight," Bishop Grech said.
"These people, especially those who belong to religious minority groups, including the Mandaean faith, have a real fear of persecution if they are forced to return to Iran.
"Australia is a nation with a generous heart and a reputation for welcoming people who have fled persecution in trouble spots around the world and it is reassuring to see this reflected in government policy.
"Minister Vanstone is to be commended on her humane and practical assessment of these matters since taking over the Immigration portfolio."
New policy on Iranian asylum seekers encouraging - Catholic Bishop (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 17/2/04)
Vanstone breaks with Iran policy (The Age 17/2/04)
Senator Amanda Vanstone
Julian Burnside vs Amanda Vanstone (crikey.com.au)
Australian Migrant & Refugee Office
Diocese of Sandhurst | Bishop Joe Grech
19 Feb 2004