Iraqis do not get automatic asylum: govt
The Age (Melbourne)
August 16, 2007 – 5:59AM
Iraqis seeking asylum in Australia will not automatically be granted protection by the federal government, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says.
Three Iraqi diplomats and their families will be given protection in Australia after their government ordered they return to their strife-torn country, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews told News Ltd.
Nine months after the group initially sought refuge in Australia, protection visas have been issued to Brigadier General Sabah Abed al-Kareem Fureje, Colonel Kamal Askander, Alaa Hassan Fathel al-Amiri and their wives and children.
All three diplomats were working in the Iraqi embassy in Canberra when they were stripped of their diplomatic status and ordered back to Iraq.
News Ltd reports Colonel Askander, his wife Ibtisam, and four children faced significant risk in Iraq because of their Christian faith.
General Fureje, who served under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, feared being killed by gangs because of his past position.
Mr Downer said the men were each being assessed on their individual circumstances and not because they came from Iraq.
“You don't have to follow the media very closely to know that there is a very serious security environment in Iraq,” he told reporters.
“But … in the case of these three people, their individual circumstances are being taken into account by the immigration department.
“It's not a generic decision, it's a decision that relates to the circumstances of those individual people.”