Crime Files Network

AttemptsĀ  to pay Chinese killer


Kirsty Needham

June 1, 2011

"Very complex case" ... Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister.“Very complex case” … Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

THE Human Rights Commissioner, Catherine Branson, wants the federal government to pay $500,000 compensation and apologise to a Chinese man convicted of double murder who has been refused a visa.

The man, ”NK”, has been held in immigration detention at Villawood since his release from prison in 2006. He cannot be sent back to China because the Immigration Department believes there is a ”real risk” of him being tried again for the murders and executed.

”NK” left China in 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and entered Australia on a student visa.

He was convicted on two counts of murder three years later, and served 15 years of a 20-year sentence. Ms Branson said the State Parole Authority had found ”NK” suitable for community release in 2006, but federal immigration ministers would not place him in community detention. He was refused a protection visa because he fails the character test.

Ms Branson has accused the government of holding ”NK” in arbitrary detention. In 2007, ”NK” married a blind former Villawood detainee, whom he now wants to look after. The Immigration Department has refused to apologise to, or compensate, ”NK” because it says he is being detained lawfully.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the department was working to resolve a ”very complex case” – most likely by seeking his removal from Australia.

As in the case of the American Gabe Watson last year, Australia considers it would be in breach of international ”non-refoulement” obligations if it returns a person to a country where they face the death penalty or torture.

”There are complex issues regarding international obligations that have so far prevented the government from removal to the home country,” Mr Bowen’s spokesman said.

Parliament is debating toughening the character test, to make it easier to refuse a visa to asylum seekers who have been sentenced for a criminal offence.

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