High court decision opens possibility of deportations to danger

Tamil deportee Dayan Anthony.

The Sydney Refugees Action Coalition released the statement below on September 7.

* * *

A High Court decision this morning has dismissed an application of behalf of five asylum seekers seeking to extend judicial review to discretionary ministerial decisions.

In a similar application (M61) in 2010, the High Court found that asylum seekers were entitled to judicial review of appeal decisions.

The High Court judgment means that there is now no legal impediment to the government moving to deport a large number of asylum seekers.

Around 180 asylum seekers were attached to the case, but the case will also impact of the fate of perhaps another 100 asylum seekers in detention centres or in community detention.

Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition said: “We will now be trying to see if there are other possible legal measures that can be taken. But are urging the government to see the High Court decision as a green light to return people to dangerous places like Sri Lanka or Afghanistan.

“The dangers of Sri Lanka have been made obvious in recent weeks. A recent report shows that there is a disappearance (mostly abductions) in Sri Lanka are reported at a rate of as disappearances of more than one every five days in post-war Sri Lanka. There have been 21 disappearances reported just by Sri Lanka’s English media in the 100 days between April 1st and July 9th 2012.

“Dayan Anthony, a Tamil asylum seeker, was questioned and intimidated by Sri Lankan authorities after he was deported in July. Dayan and his family, like the families of other asylum seekers in Australia, are being watched by Sri Lankan [Criminal Investigation Department].

“In June, this year, a British High Court stopped the removal of Tamils because it was considered they were at risk of torture if they were returned.

“Anyone who watched Go Back To From Where You Came From knows that Kabul and Afghanistan are not safe places for asylum seekers. Many Hazara asylum are victims of decisions that claimed Afghanistan is safe - but conditions there have deteriorated.”

“In the light of this decision, refugee groups will be stepping up their campaigns against deportations.

“The government introduced complementary protection legislation into the parliament in March this year. If the government is consistent they will allow all the asylum seekers affected by the High Court decision to make application for complementary protection. It would be complete hypocrisy not to extent that protection to people who arrived before March 2012.”

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