Detained refugee to take ASIO, gov’t to High Court

Refugee lawyer David Manne and a pro bono legal team will take the federal government and ASIO to the High Court to challenge the indefinite detention of refugees found to be “security threats”.

The case will argue that refugees should be told the full reasons for ASIO's decision, so they are able to appeal adverse findings.

Manne said the situation now is “like being sentenced to life imprisonment without even having been charged, tried and convicted. It's a secret trial”.

“A refugee is locked up indefinitely on the basis of a negative security assessment, made under a secret process on information he doesn't have, and for reasons he's not told, without any independent review or scrutiny of the decision.”

The case has been lodged on behalf on an unnamed Tamil client, who has been in detention for more than three years due to ASIO's negative assessment, Manne said.

“Our client is in a very desperate situation, he is extremely distressed and has been extremely damaged by the experience of detention after fleeing from the trauma and persecution of his past.”

More than 50 refugees are held in detention with negative ASIO checks, including a Tamil family with three children, a widow and her child and a refugee who was only 17 when he was found a threat by ASIO.

The new court case comes as pregnant Tamil woman Ranjini and her two sons were taken into custody and locked up in Villawood detention centre, and more refugees with this ASIO sentence are being driven to self-harm and suicide attempts.

Manne said Ranjini could also become a plaintiff in the case, and the case's outcome would apply to all refugees assessed by ASIO.

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