|National||GOVERNMENT ATTACHING STRINGS TO TEMPORARY REFUGEE VISAS: JESUIT|
While the Australian Government's offer to extend temporary visas to the East Timorese is welcome, the Jesuit Refugee service is asking why such visas are only available from offshore.
Fr Adrian Lyons said: "We believe they should be available to East Timorese already in Australia through fear of persecution. And to asylum seekers from other countries as well."
Writing in his organisations Dispatches newsletter, Fr Lyons expressed unease towards the tight restrictions attached to the temporary visas.
"A person who accepts one cannot apply for refugee status, nor for residence on humanitarian grounds, even if their reasons for leaving East Timor qualify them for such status. In general, the legality of special visas offering only temporary haven is unclear," he said.
He also criticised the government's enshrinement of the principle of temporary refuge, by drawing up regulations that create a temporary visa for "humanitarian entries".
He believes that the Government is preparing for a possible large outflow of refugees from East Timor following an escalation in the present upheaval.
JRS 1:12pm 17/6/99