The Federal Government is tightening the asylum seeker appeal process to force would-be refugees to make concrete steps to return home, even if they have not exhausted their rights to appeal. The changes will affect asylum seekers living in the community who have had their claims rejected by both the Department of Immigration and an independent review panel. It is understood some might still have active judicial reviews underway or be seeking ministerial intervention.
Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre believes the Government is trying to pressure people to leave Australia.
"What they're going to try to do is frighten and threaten people to go back," she said.
"It's nonsensical to insist that people go through a charade of preparing to go home when they haven't even got a final decision."
The asylum seekers will have to prove they are taking steps to leave Australia, such as producing travel documents and engaging with the International Organisation for Migration, or risk being put back into detention.
Refugee consultant David Manne said the asylum seekers may still have genuine claims.
"Those types of requirements are at fundamental odds with a person's claims for protection against their country," Mr Manne said.
Coalition had pledged to tighten appeals process
Before last year's federal election the Coalition pledged to tighten the appeals process available to asylum seekers, a move it said was needed to clear the backlog of claims waiting to be processed.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has previously said he wanted to remove failed asylum seekers who wished to stay indefinitely at taxpayers' expense.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the minister said the department had flexibility in the way it managed cases.
"We expect every person to comply with the lawful and reasonable requests of the department in managing their case," she said.
Chris Berg from the Institute of Public Affairs said the Government should be able to deport people who have failed the process.
But he said it was important the system did not end up mistakenly sending people back to danger.
"There has to be a way to expel people who have invalid visas in Australia if they are found to be illegitimate refugees," he said.
"The problem we have is that it's not clear that we are deciding who is a legitimate and an illegitimate refugee correctly."
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