ASYLUM seekers convicted of participating in riots that caused more than $5 million damage to the Christmas Island detention centre have been handed protection visas to stay in the country. Just one of seven offenders convicted over the riots had his visa application rejected by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on character grounds.
Three men found guilty of offences relating to the March 2011 riots - in which accommodation and administration facilities were burned down and rocks thrown at police - have been granted protection visas to remain in Australia.
Two others convicted were found not to be refugees and another has a current protection claim but is appealing against his conviction. Six of the seven remain in Australia.
At the time of the riots, Mr Bowen talked tough about the 200 participants, most of whom had their faces covered. Only 22 were charged, leaving just seven with convictions.
"Again, a group of around 200 protesters seem to think that violent behaviour is an acceptable way to influence the outcome of their visa application or influence government decision-making," he said at the time.
A month after the riots, Mr Bowen said he was toughening the character test provisions "to make it very clear that anybody who commits an offence, regardless of the penalty, regardless of the sentence, while they are in immigration detention will fail the character test and can be denied a permanent visa".
It has been revealed to parliament that the three rioters given protection visas received a warning on their character assessment before being handed their visas.
The character test clearly states if an asylum seeker has been convicted of an offence while in detention they fail the test. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that the rioters' visa applications should have been rejected.
Australian Federal Police and dog squad in riot gear prepare to relocate asylum-seeker detainees within the detention centre on Christmas Island, following the March riots.
"Minister Bowen has proved himself a soft touch on our borders at every opportunity," Mr Morrison said.
"Every chance he has had to send a strong message on our borders, he has rolled out the welcome mat.
"The fact that he granted permanent visas to those who rioted and burnt sections of detention centres to the ground on his watch is a disgrace."
Mr Bowen's spokesman yesterday accused the Coalition of hypocrisy.
"The minister has refused a total of three people since the new character powers were introduced," he said.
"This exceeds the Coalition's record, in which not a single person was denied a visa due to their behaviour in riots or other unrest, despite multiple convictions - more astounding hypocrisy from Scott Morrison."
In: Regional News
Tags: economic refugees, illegals, sharia, muslims, terrorists, rats, downfall of australia
Location: Australia (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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