Refugees with adverse ASIO assessments must be immediately released

The Refugee Action Collective welcomes the decision of the High Court ruling invalid the regulation which has allowed the Immigration minister to deny protection visas to refugees based on ‘adverse assessments’ by ASIO.

We join the chorus of refugee and human rights advocates calling on the Immigration Minister to immediately release all 54 refugees with adverse ASIO assessments.

These people have all been found to be refugees, some have been in detention over three years.

“The government has tried to create the impression that these refugees could be terrorists, or a threat to society, when this isn’t the case. The reason for adverse ASIO assessment of Arjuna (or “M47”) which came to light in the High Court case, was his alleged association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE has never been declared a terrorist organisation by Australian authorities.”

said Chris Breen spokesperson for the Refugee Action Collective

“It is extremely likely that association with the LTTE is also the reason for adverse assessments of other Tamil refugees. But there is no reason someone who fought for the Tamil Tigers should be considered a security risk in Australia.”

The High Court stated in its judgement that an “ASIO…assessment involves a different and lesser threshold than the determination of whether there is a significant risk that a person presents a danger to the Australian community or a segment of it.”

It is clear ASIO assessments have been wrongly used to get around Australia’s obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

“The Minister owes the plaintiff Arjuna and the other refugees with adverse ASIO assessments an apology and compensation.”

said Chris Breen

Keeping these refugees locked up is destroying lives. Ranjini whose case has been widely publicised is still locked up with her two boys Pirai, 9, and Kathir, 6. She was living in the community posing no threat to anyone, when she was whisked away to detention on the basis of an adverse ASIO assessment. She is not allowed private unsupervised visits with her husband. There are reports Ranjini and her boys are deteriorating in detention. Psychologist report after psychologist report has found that children’s development is severely damaged by detention, and that mental health issues caused by detention cannot be treated as long as detention is maintained.

Labor Attorney General Minister Roxon has cruelly said the High Court decision “could mean legislative change”.

“The Refugee Action Collective calls on Labor not to conspire with the Liberals to change the legislation, and not to crush the hopes which have been raised. Labor voters did not vote for indefinite detention, or for a rerun of the Howard era refugee bashing.”

said Chris Breen

Sadly Home Secretary Jason Clare has pointed out despite the decision “The Minister for Immigration retains the power to refuse to give somebody a visa if they are determined to be a refugee, if he believes they shouldn’t be granted a visa for national security reasons” .

Chris Breen said in response “Such ministerial decisions would be open to review unlike the ASIO assessments which the Minister has been hiding behind. But no review would be needed if Minister Bowen heeded the call of the Refugee Action Collective to use his power to immediately release Ranjini and all other refugees with adverse ASIO assessments.”

Contact Chris Breen 0403 013 183 for further comment