Over the past few months, refugees who were once deemed by ASIO to be a threat to national security have been gradually released from indefinite detention. It appears that one of Australia's most internationally criticised immigration detention policies is being quietly abandoned. The most high-profile victims of this policy, Ranjini and her son, who was born in detention and had never known a day of freedom, were released on November 13.
After three years of campaigning, Tamil refugee Ranjini was suddenly released from Villawood detention centre on November 12. Even though she had been granted refugee status, Ranjini was whisked off the streets of Melbourne and locked up in 2012, due to a sudden ASIO decision to declare her a threat to national security. She was never allowed to find out why this had happened, see the evidence or challenge it in a court. More than 50 others suffered the same fate. Some have been released after six years in prison. Others are still there.
Last month, the High Court heard a case brought by lawyers for Ranjini, a Tamil woman who was accepted as a refugee but is being held in indefinite detention because ASIO considers her a security threat. Ranjini is one of 47 people in this situation. They face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in detention because ASIO claims that they are “likely to engage in acts prejudicial to Australia’s security”. Ranjini’s lawyers said detaining people for life without charge, trial or conviction for any crime is illegal. The High Court has reserved its decision.
Tamil refugee Ranjini and her two sons made headlines last May when they were taken without warning to Sydney's Villawood detention centre and locked up after Ranjini was labelled an ASIO “security risk”. The very next day, 33-year-old Ranjini learned she was pregnant. She gave birth to Paartheepan (Paari) on January 15. The newborn boy has the right to live outside detention with his father, Ganesh, who married Ranjini a year before she was detained and lives nearby in Sydney.