Friday, September 07, 2007

Australia wouldn't deport Ali Panah. So why are we trying to?

Since the Tampa incident and the mandatory detention of refugees in isolated desert camps, New Zealanders have had a low opinion of Australia's treatment of refugees. But as the Herald this morning points out, they're better than us in at least one respect: they won't deport Christian converts to Iran:

Libby Hogarth, an Adelaide immigration consultant who represented 40 Iranian Christians held in 2005, said Australia had effectively accepted that genuine Christian converts should not be returned to Iran.

"Immigration deported one person in 2005," she said.

"There was such an outcry from the churches when that person was arrested at the airport and taken to prison that the then Immigration Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said she would not deport any further Iranians."

Mrs Hogarth said she had since won temporary visas for all 40 of her Iranian Christian clients and they were applying for permanent refugee status.

This policy has also been adopted by the United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada and Holland, all of which recognise that it is simply too dangerous to deport Christian converts back to Iran. So why are we trying to? Aren't we meant to be better than the Aussies?