Australia Is Considering Tighter Screening Of Refugees, According To Leaked Document

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Australia’s government is considering applying enhanced special screening on refugees who want to resettle in the country, according to a leaked document.

It is believed that the document, obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, originated from the ministry for Immigration and Border Protection, and was intended to be presented by minister Peter Dutton to the Australian cabinet’s National Security Committee. The proposed changes would include several measures to increase screening procedures of refugees, particularly those hailing from Syria.

One of the first recommendations put forth in the document is to “introduce a visa risk assessment tool that establishes an intelligence-led threat identification and risk profiling capability” for potential migrants. In addition, the department of Immigration and Border protection will “apply additional screening criteria to the 12,000 Syrian [refugees].”

Included in the document is an addendum which explains the radicalization of refugees.

“Some humanitarian entrants [refugees] bring beliefs, issues or associations that may lead them to advocate or engage in politically motivated violence and many face significant social, economic cultural challenges once ashore,” says the document.

The report outlines several measures that could help mitigate the risk of radicalization, the first being “successful settlement and integration” of refugees in Australian society. It also notes that “the public’s confidence in immigration and cultural diversity” must be maintained to ensure “acceptance and integration” into the community.

An overhaul of the current visa framework is also put forward in order to “simplify” the process and “create stronger controls over access to permanent residency and citizenship.” Included in the reformation will be “additional decision points” applied to the refugee process, which will include “an enforceable integration framework to assess aspiring migrants’ suitability for life in Australia.”

Additionally, “enhanced access, use and protection of sensitive information to strengthen intelligence-led, risk-based decision making” will be given to officials when determining each refugee’s case. Syrian and Iraqi refugees in particular will be subject to “more stringent checks to review character, identity and security.”

Though the report outlines steps the ministry hopes will mitigate the risk of radical terrorism, it does admit toward the end that “it is expected that some refugees from this conflict will bring with them issues, beliefs or associations that lead them to advocate or engage in … communal violence.”

Both prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Dutton claim they had not reviewed the leaked document when queried by press Friday. However, Dutton was steadfast when it came to questions over whether or not it was proper to screen refugees.

“We are going to be tough in terms of the screening processes because we want to afford refuge to those people who are refugees,” said Dutton, “this is a very serious time for our country, for Western democracies … people will pretend to be refugees when they’re not.”

Australia is one of many Western countries that are facing tough decisions over what to do about the influx of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto spoke of the “stark transformation” of Western values due to a massive refugee influx in his country and Europe as a whole in a speech to parliament Wednesday. His comments followed a statement made by German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere Tuesday claiming that Germany will send refugees back to their homes after conflicts in the Middle East have died down.

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