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ASIO legal black hole could be closed

The Greens will introduce a bill into the Senate today that would finally see the removal of a legal loophole that has meant refugees could be detained in Australia forever. (Full bill available here)

 “My bill would fix a legal black hole that has dumped 60 people into a system of indefinite detention which could last for the rest of their lives,” Greens spokesperson for immigration, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

 “In a decent democracy people are given the opportunity to have their cases heard before we lock them up and throw away the key and we are only asking that those legal protections that are offered to all Australians be given to refugees who seek protection here.

 “I have met some of the men, women and children who have been caught up in this system of endless imprisonment and the effect it is having on them is terrible.

 “Some of these children were born in detention centres years ago and have never seen the outside world.

 “It is tragic, but in no way surprising, that we have seen suicide attempts and mental breakdowns from the people who have been caught in this potentially endless imprisonment.

 “Last week’s High Court ruling showed that this system is illegal, but the Government is yet to decide how to correct the situation.

 “The question is not whether we manage any risk, but how we manage it.

 “Do we condemn refugees who committed no crime to indefinite incarceration, possibly forever, or adopt a more balanced approach in line with countries like the UK, Canada and New Zealand?

 “Labor can make a genuine improvement to our nation’s legal system here, but they seem bent on colluding with the Opposition to enshrine this un-Australian situation into law.

 “My bill will offer them a way forward that would implement a humane, legal and just system for refugees.”

 Sarah Hanson-Young’s Migration and Security Legislation Amendment (Review of Security Assessments) Bill 2012 would ensure;

-          Periodic internal review (every 6 months) by ASIO of adverse assessments when refugee is in immigration detention

-          The opening up of merits review of adverse assessments for non-citizens in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (which Australian citizens can already have)

-          The right for the refugee to access and read the written reasons for a negative assessment (which Australian citizens can already do), unless there's a significant security risk

-          If a security risk is too high to reveal the reason to the refugee directly, a Special Advocate to be appointed to access and challenge the reasons on behalf of the refugee in the Tribunal hearing (without disclosing information to the person). This is the practice in comparable countries such as New Zealand.

-          An end of indefinite detention. When someone has an adverse assessment, the Immigration Minister must make a residence determination that considers a less invasive option, such as community detention under a control order.


Media Contact: Noah Schultz-Byard 0427 604 760

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