See justice being done

One complaint I have read about the Refugee Review Tribunal is about its selective publication of its decisions.

My own view is that, because it is important that justice should be seen to be done, and because decisions about refugee status are not simply a question of private law (is this an oxymoron? discuss), there is an obligation on the Tribunal to publish its decisions as comprehensively as possible.  I am skeptical about the use of pseudonymous case names and the deletion of details which might identify parties.  This is justified on the basis that it serves to protect the parties or, alternatively, to prevent parties from using the publication of identifying details as a reason why they may face persecution if returned to their country of origin if they otherwise would not face such persecution.  Sometimes this is necessary; sometimes it just seems to make it more difficult to keep an eye on what the Tribunal is doing and to whom.

I looked today to see if the Tribunal has published its decision of 3 September to grant Motahar Hussein refugee status.

I don’t know to what extent the present paucity of recent published results of the Tribunal is owing to the Tribunal and to what extent it is owing to its internet publisher,  AustLII.   There were only two decisions available and the latest available was dated 13 August. Just to put this in proportion, for 2005 the AustLII site has 336 decisions, for 2006, 226, and for the first 6 months of this year, 132.

One recent decision I found concerned a refusal to accept as refugees an Indian man who claimed to be gay and his wife who also claimed to face persecution in India because of this. It is headed “DECISION RECORD” but I cannot tell whether this means it is a transcript of an oral decision or in fact something which purported to be a written document.

I don’t want to criticize the tribunal member, Angela Cranston. I have no reason to believe she wasn’t doing her best. But on what used to be called textual grounds alone, I don’t think you could fail to conclude that if the Tribunal constitutes justice, it evidently is justice on the cheap.

One Response to “See justice being done”

  1. paula carew Says:

    read this and sign

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