Australia has accepted just two refugees from the United States under the deal with US President Donald Trump – and both are former Rwandan rebels suspected of brutally murdering eight tourists in Uganda.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed on Sunday that the suspected killers are the only refugees he has approved under the deal and that there are no plans to take any more.
In return, Australia has sent 500 refugees to the US and another 295 visas are pending.
The Rwandan men are former first sergeants in the Hutu rebel group Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR) which was regarded as largely responsible for the 1994 genocide.
The pair confessed to hacking the tourists with machetes, but a US Court later found the confessions were extracted under torture and dismissed the case.
“You need to look at the historical perspective around the circumstances, what has happened in the intervening period,” Mr Dutton said.
“We’ll not take someone who is a risk to the Australian people.
“They have full information available to them, from Border Force, intelligence holdings from the US, whatever it may be. They make a judgement. They inform us of their advice and we act on the advice.”
Asked if he knew in which state the men are residing, Mr Dutton said he did not.
“I don’t have information on individual cases, but we aren’t bringing in people posing a risk,” he said.
Mr Dutton said 500 refugees in offshore detention centres had gone to the US and “there’s another 295 in the pipelines.”
But the original target of 1250 refugees going to the US would probably not be reached.
Rejected by the US
“Over 300 … have been rejected by the United States for various reasons. That’s an issue for the US,” he said.
“There’s 95 people who have either withdrawn from consideration or rejected an offer, and that’s a concern as well. If we can get those 95 across the line, we get closer to zero.”
Mr Dutton also confirmed the controversial Paladin contract in PNG to run the Manus Island detention centre would likely roll over when it expires in a fortnight.
“The likelihood is there’s a continuation. I’m not going to comment when the department is in the process of the arrangements,” he said.
Mr Dutton also confirmed “just over 30” asylum seekers had been brought to Australia under the Medevac legislation allowing access to mainland Australia medical services.
In February, The Australian‘s front page report ‘Phelps bill a security risk: ASIO’, warned that ASIO’s advice suggested almost all of the remaining 1000 people on Manus Island and Nauru could come to Australia under the medevac bill.
However, the ASIO Director General Duncan Lewis later rejected the claim that that was a security agency warning.
“The advice that ASIO gave was not what was represented on the front page of The Australian newspaper,” Mr Lewis said.
The Morrison Government reopened the Christmas Island detention centre to cope with the potential influx at a cost of $200 million.
Mr Dutton confirmed no refugees were ever brought to the island.
“No, there weren’t,” he said.
Mr Dutton was also quizzed on the original proposal to extend the remit of the Australian Signals Directorate domestically, the subject of leaks that sparked the recent AFP newsroom raids, including on a journalists’ home.
He rejected the original report as “nonsense” but conceded he was still interested in the idea outlined in the leaked documents.
“We don’t support spying on Australians. That was a complete nonsense,” he said.
“(But) when you have a paedophile network that operates out of Manila that livestreams children being abused, there’s a chance for us to shut the
“If it was operating in Fitzroy, Melbourne, if it was masked or rerouted and all the rest of it, we are not able to shut it down,” he said.
“I think there needs to be a sensible discussion about whether or not we’ve got the ability to deal with threats we face.”