Thursday, 24 May 2012

Indefinite Detention

The Greens are planning on introducing legislation that will allow refugees to appeal negative ASIO determinations. This would be introduced when the Senate resumes next month.

ASIO, for the people who don't know is basically Australia's version of MI5.

At the same time Human Rights Lawyer David Manne has lodged a papers in the High Court challenging the same problem.

As it stands at the moment an asylum seeker can have a successful asylum application meaning they get refugee status, but if ASIO says "no" they can't be let into the community, or in the case of a Tamil refugee by the name of Ranjini be taken into detention after living in the community for about a year.

Now what happens is that we have people who have been determined to be refugees under the Refugee Convention, meaning they are permitted to stay in this country, but because of the negative ASIO finding cannot go into the community. It seems that all these people know is that they have a negative finding with no way of appealing.

According to the Greens there are 57 people in this situation, some of them children, who have been found guilty of "something" in a manner that resembles Kafka's The Trial. This country already has a less then stellar record when it comes to refugee issues, and this doesn't do much to help.

ASIO has already caused problems by increasing the time these people can spend in detention, and we've already seen how their lack of transparency have already caused problems, such as the case of Sheik Mansour Leghaei, who ended up being deported after an adverse check by ASIO after a long legal fight. This was despite support from various members of government, religious figures and other prominent people.

The problem is that I get the feeling that Manne's attempt will probably result in similar results to Leghaei's trial. Some of the things we ended up learning in Leghaei's case was that he didn't have a right to learn why he failed his check, that some of the possible evidence against him is either made up by others or by ASIO itself and that proceedural fairness and natural justice don't matter when it comes to national security. I think the most shocking thing to come out of that case was that apparently nobody had a right to overrule ASIO.

If you believe the more nationalistic Australians one of the qualities that makes up "Australian-ness" is "a fair go". But looking at what ASIO is doing it seems that this doesn't matter when it comes to people who come to this country to either escape danger or improve our society, or improve relations within it simple because they are foreign.

And I think that has to change.