Move to allow refugees to appeal ASIO findings
Hayden Cooper, staff
The Australian minority Greens party will move a bill to challenge the way Australian intelligence agency ASIO conducts security assessments which often see refugees stuck in detention with no hope of release.
A growing number of refugees have found themselves stuck in legal limbo, granted protection in Australia only to be banned by ASIO for posing a security risk.
ASIO does not provide reasons for its rulings and for non-citizens there is no right of appeal against the merits of a decision.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says refugees deserve the right to appeal.
"How can it be that a child, a single mother, a widow, a young teenager, is facing indefinite detention, practically for the rest of their lives, and no-one can explain what they have done?" she said.
Independent MP Rob Oakeshott was a member of a Senate committee looking at Australia's detention network, and says the committee recommends changes to ASIO.
"I do think there should be a right of appeal on some of the ASIO findings. I think it's an appropriate change and I hope that the Government takes it on," he said.
He says once the Government has had time to properly analyse the recommendations he will push for them to be implemented.
For its part, ASIO maintains it cannot provide confidential details to visa applicants because it would reveal ASIO methods.
There are now 51 refugees, including six children, in indefinite detention with no right of appeal.
'Bonus' is a Tamil refugee who fled Sri Lanka's civil war and was granted refugee status in Australia.
But he has told the ABC a negative security assessment from ASIO means he cannot be released from Sydney's Villawood detention centre.
"I'm extremely depressed and I'm also having a lot of health issues. For two months I have been hearing noises in my ear. It's like a ringing noise and in the past few days I've been hearing voices and I'm having hallucinations," he said.
He has now been in detention for three years and he says he does not know why ASIO has ruled against him.
"I have no idea and they haven't given me a reason. None of my family members are in the LTTE [Tamil Tigers]. I didn't have direct or indirect contact with the LTTE," he said.
The Tamil community speculates that the adverse assessments relate to possible links with the LTTE.