Secret ASIO rulings cause despair for refugees

Refugee rights action, Sydney, December 2011. Photo: Peter Boyle

More refugees confronted with a lifetime in immigration detention because of an “adverse” security check by ASIO are being driven to suicide attempts and self-harm.

In Broadmeadows detention centre in Melbourne, two Tamil refugees tried to commit suicide within a month of each other, one over Mother’s Day weekend. The Sydney Morning Herald said on May 16 that a “third man stood screaming with an electrical cord clutched in one hand … at the same spot where a friend had swung by the neck until he almost died three nights earlier”.

“The man, one of 78 rescued by the Australian customs vessel Oceanic Viking in 2009, had become distraught listening to a Mother’s Day special on radio, and remembering how his mother was killed in Sri Lanka’s civil war when he was 13.”

One of the men told refugee supporters he lost hope when another Tamil refugee, mother and wife Ranjini, and her two sons were locked up in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre on May 10 because ASIO decided she was a “security risk”.

After they had lived in Melbourne for a year as recognised refugees and Ranjini had remarried only one month ago, she was taken into custody in Melbourne and sent to Villawood, where her husband has been unable to visit her and she now faces indefinite detention.

The SMH said it was believed ASIO found her deceased husband had been connected to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But there is no way to confirm this because all of ASIO’s decisions regarding refugees are kept secret.

“They are refugees, they cannot be returned to their country of origin, they have an adverse security finding — Australia has effectively blacklisted them, what other country will take them?

“Other nations have methods of oversight for their peak security agencies … In Australia there is nothing, Ranjini, [husband] Ganesh and her sons are left not knowing what they are being punished for and realising that their punishment is for life.”

Almost 50 people found to be genuine refugees by Australia remain locked up in detention centres, known widely to be “mental illness factories”, due to ASIO’s negative security findings. A recent parliament inquiry said an independent review and appeals process was needed and the ALP national conference adopted a similar position last year, but the government is yet to act.


An absolute outrage! Certainly the way has been done reminds many of us of the Gestapo! If she was carged with a criminal offence she would have to be give all the basic rights tha pertain to criminal triaThe right to know the detailed accusations and supporting evidence for them....the right to bail....a fair and open trial before an impartial court......a presumptoin that she is innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonble doubt....and so on. Why, when an adverse ASIO [or any othe secret proceeding] can destroy someone's life and future Is there NO PROPER CHECK AT ALL in such cases? You wouldnt' dare treat a suspected burglar that way! How do you carry ou t realistic security check in such cases anyway? You need access to proper and reliable sources, most of which probaly don't exist! Successive Govenments have had plenty of warning [and time] but have done nothing! It's time to wake them up! Tragically, since the days of the Howard government's poorly drafted and over-extensive security laws, nd thGeorge BUsh's and Obama's woften bogus "War on Terror", often waged by cruel and dirty means directly copied from the Gestapo via the Inquisition, our standards have slipped dangreousl in the last few years! Wer'e supposed to be a free country. Let' make sure it stays that way! And remember this....When you eat a a cake, you do it slice by slice!
What right do they have to jail her and the children? It is flat out illegal to jail the kids.