Australia says sorry to detained schizophrenic

14th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 July 2005, SYDNEY - Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday apologised to a schizophrenic German-born Australian resident who was illegally kept in detention for 10 months and a handicapped citizen who was wrongfully deported to the Philippines. "On behalf of the government I give those apologies to both of those women who were the victims of mistakes by the department," Howard told reporters after receiving a 208-page independent report into mistakes by Immigration Department officials. The prime minist

14 July 2005

SYDNEY - Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday apologised to a schizophrenic German-born Australian resident who was illegally kept in detention for 10 months and a handicapped citizen who was wrongfully deported to the Philippines.

"On behalf of the government I give those apologies to both of those women who were the victims of mistakes by the department," Howard told reporters after receiving a 208-page independent report into mistakes by Immigration Department officials.

The prime minister also promised compensation to Cornelia Rau, 39, and Vivian Alvarez Solon, 42.

Rau, a former Qantas Airways steward with permanent residency in Australia, was first jailed and then kept in a detention centre after she left a Sydney psychiatric hospital and insisted to authorities who found her that she was a German tourist.

Alvarez Solon, a citizen after marrying an Australian, was picked up after a traffic accident and deported to the Philippines in a wheelchair by authorities in Brisbane who decided she was an illegal immigrant. She spent four years in a hospice in the Philippines before she was found and offered a compensation package enabling her to return to Australia.

Howard said Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone would keep her job, despite the failures catalogued in the report prepared by former federal police chief Mick Palmer. The report looked into more than 200 cases of possible wrongful detention.

Vanstone said the government acknowledged the mistakes and accepted that changes needed to be made within the department.

Bill Farmer resigned as head of the department last week and will take up the post of ambassador to Jakarta later this year. Both his deputies have been moved to other government jobs and a new team will oversee the changes within the department.

"This has been a difficult issue, nobody is running away from the fact that errors were made," Howard said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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