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Aust: Report on "Unidentified” Long term Detainees

Ombudsman’s Report Reveals Injustice of “Unidentified” Long term Detainees

The Victorian Greens Spokesperson on Refugees, Peter Job, today commented on the revelation Wednesday by the Commonwealth Ombudsman that two detainees had been incarcerated in immigration detention for four and a half and three and a half years respectively for no other reason than that they were of Asian appearance and could not be identified.

“Both spoke excellent English, one with an accent described as ‘an Australian vernacular’ by the deputy manager of Baxter. He could quite possibly an Australian citizen or permanent resident, as Cornellia Rau proved to be, yet he was only released last month, after three and a half years locked up.

“As the Ombudsman himself points out, it is unacceptable that they should have been detained for so long for no other reason that DIMA failed to identify them.”

Mr. Job explained that one had been released on 14 February, while the other had been recently identified as a Malaysian citizen and is awaiting deportation.

“One of the most disturbing things about the these cases is that the Ombudsman has documented the fact that few efforts were made to identify them before April last year, when the Department was forced to act by the publicity of the Cornellia Rau affair,” Mr. Job said.

“Until then they were simply detained and dumped. The Department clearly had no concept at all of the human rights issues involved in locking up people who have committed no crime for long periods of time.”

Mr. Job also commented on the number of detainees still in long term detention.

“There are over twenty detainees who have been locked up more than two years, with three having spent more than five years inside. Two of the longest term detainees have been found to be genuine in their claims, but are still languishing inside due to lengthy security checks.

“The Minister claimed this week she is reforming DIMA processes, yet the reality for these long term detainees belies this,” Mr. Job said.

Mr. Job explained that the Ombudsman reports were released late on 1 March, and are available on the Federal Ombudsman’s website.

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