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Archive for the ‘REFUGEES DETAINEES’ Category

Attempts  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.

Alleged people smuggler

faces 89 charges

May 17, 2011 – 4:52PM

An Australian man deported from Indonesia has appeared in a Perth court on 89 people-smuggling charges, some of them relating to last year’s Christmas Island boat disaster.

Iranian-born Ali Khorram Heydarkhani was not legally represented and was not required to enter a plea when he appeared in the Magistrates Court today after being flown from Sydney on Friday.

The 40-year-old was arrested at Sydney Airport on Thursday, after being deported from Indonesia, where he had overstayed his visa.

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In court today, Mr Heydarkhani, wearing a black jacket, listened and affirmed that he understood as an interpreter translated the charges read out by magistrate Joe Cicchini.

The 89 counts against Mr Heydarkhani, who has been an Australian citizen since 2003, relate to four boatloads of asylum seekers brought to Australia between June 2010 and January this year.

One of those boats was the SIEV 221, which smashed against rocks and broke apart at Christmas Island on December 15, leading to the deaths of at least 30 people, mostly from Iran and Iraq.

The magistrate remanded Mr Heydarkhani in custody to reappear on June 9 via video link from prison and advised him to get legal representation as soon as possible.

Earlier, a man in the public gallery had approached the magistrate saying Mr Heydarkhani was not legally represented, but a court security officer told him to sit down.

The man did so and draped himself in an Aboriginal flag but was told to remove it or be held in contempt of court.

When he refused, a police prosecutor ordered him to leave and escorted him out, saying the court was “not a political arena”.

The man later told reporters he had met Mr Heydarkhani in the Perth Watch House on Saturday and wanted to help him in court.

Mr Heydarkhani was detained by Indonesian authorities on January 25 and deported for overstaying his visa, precluding the need for Australia to seek his extradition.

West Australian Coroner Alastair Hope is due to begin an inquest into the Christmas Island boat tragedy in Perth tomorrow.

The inquest will examine whether SIEV 221 was being tracked by Commonwealth agencies, and, if not, why it wasn’t under surveillance.

It will also look at the preparedness of government agencies to respond to the situation.

Later this year, a federal parliamentary committee will also examine the tragedy.


Detainees continue protesting

April 24, 2011

As a protest at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre entered its fifth day, immigration officials have downplayed reports of a mass hunger strike at Western Australia’s Curtin facility.

Three protesters remained on the roof of Villawood detention centre on Easter Sunday afternoon.

Two of them had been there since Wednesday, when a riot involving up to 100 detainees broke out, leaving nine buildings gutted by fire.

Twenty-two of the protesters were earlier this week transferred to Silverwater Correctional Centre and questioned by police.

Officials from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship were waiting to negotiate with the remaining three protesters, but only if they came down from the roof at Villawood, a spokeswoman said.

”We are prepared to meet them,” she said.

Social Justice Network spokesman Jamal Daoud said security staff were not allowing anyone access to the protesters, leaving them without food or water.

”They’re getting water on the roof but they have to come down to get food,” a department spokesman said on Sunday afternoon.

Well known for speaking out on behalf of refugees and detainees, Mr Daoud complained he was handcuffed and forced to kneel after an argument with police on Saturday afternoon at the centre.

He said he was taken to Bankstown police station and later released with a $350 fine.

”The police officers were acting with deep hate, disregard for basic civil rights,” Mr Daoud said.

In Western Australia, Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said a hunger strike and sit-in involving about 300 detainees at Curtin Airbase detention centre, in the state’s remote West Kimberley region, was expected to escalate.

The protest against visitors being prevented from going to the centre over the Easter weekend began on Saturday morning, Mr Rintoul said.

”The asylum seekers are asking that they be allowed to see refugee supporters who have travelled from Perth and other cities to see them over the Easter weekend,” Mr Rintoul said in a statement on Sunday.

The Immigration Department downplayed the claim, saying about 150 Afghan refugees had started a ”peaceful protest” on Saturday afternoon.

”I can confirm that some people skipped a meal but it’s not unusual to do that,” a spokeswoman said.

She added that there was food available at the centre’s canteen, and that snacks like noodles were available in the tea room, which meant some detainees sometimes skipped meals in favour of snacks.

”The centre is calm. There are just some people sitting in the outdoor recreation area at the centre,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Australia Greens have urged the federal government to increase its refugee intake by about 50 per cent.

Greens federal MP Adam Bandt suggested the government lift the number of refugees accepted into Australia to 20,000 a year.

”Our view is that we should have a quick and humane process and, of course, if someone is found not to be a refugee or we have reached our limit, then we should, of course, return them safely, provided it is within our legal obligations,” Mr Bandt told the Ten Network on Sunday.

He recommended that asylum-seeker applications be processed within 30 days.

”It gives enough time for security and health checks,” he said.


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