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ASIO and refugees

Speeches in Parliament
Adam Bandt 12 Oct 2012

I would like to reflect on the decision by the High Court last Friday that the government has been acting unlawfully in relying on negative ASIO assessments to withhold protection visas from people found to be refugees. Refugees in this situation remain in detention but they are not told why they are being indefinitely detained, nor are they entitled to a review of this decision at law.

Eighteen months ago I visited one of the refugees affected by the regulation now found to be inconsistent with the Migration Act. My office has been working with him since then, visiting him in hospital when he required acute psychiatric care and talking with his supporters and lawyers. His courage and perseverance in face of indefinite detention in Melbourne has been extraordinary. He fled war in Sri Lanka, leaving behind family members in refugee and war camps-those who had not been executed. His hope is to live in a safe country, learn English and complete his master's degree in chemistry, which was disrupted by civil war in Sri Lanka.

After three years in detention he remains positive, with a quiet patience that comes from a lifetime of enduring hardship and surviving successive disappointments and trauma. His patience and trust in the fairness of the Australian immigration system has been challenged beyond comprehension. He should not be subjected to life in a detention centre. He should have a right to know the reasons for his detention and to be able to appeal findings against him. My Greens colleagues and I will be doing what we can to ensure that he and other refugees are afforded these rights that are currently enjoyed by other Australian citizens.

 

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