Review push for denied asylum seekers

A boat with more 200 people aboard arrives from Libya

“Independent review should be extended to people seeking asylum” … Paul Power. Photo: AFP

ASYLUM seekers given negative security assessments by ASIO, preventing community release, should have the right to an independent review of the decision, the Refugee Council of Australia says.

The refugee council and 16 church, social service and multicultural organisations met 20 federal parliamentarians yesterday to push their support for community processing of boat arrivals.

The Refugee Council chief executive, Paul Power, said he was concerned that Tamil asylum seekers, in particular, who had been accepted as refugees were receiving adverse ASIO decisions with no opportunity to learn what prompted the finding.

”Independent review should be extended to people seeking asylum,” Mr Power said. He said Australian citizens had the right to have ASIO decisions independently verified.

Mr Power said the council was not confident that security decisions being made about Tamils, who had fled a civil war, bore relevance to the potential threat of particular individuals to the community.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, is expected soon to announce the first release of asylum seekers from detention on bridging visas, likely to be a group of around 200 in Perth, Western Australia.

The Curtin Detention Centre in WA holds 1049 asylum seekers and is the largest detention facility. Another 73 asylum seekers, mostly unaccompanied teenagers, are detained in the WA town of Leonora.

The Coalition has claimed community processing will be a ”pull factor” for more boats. But Mr Power said there was no evidence this was the case.

The Uniting Justice Australia national director, Reverend Elenie Poulos, said prolonged detention ”doesn’t serve people well” and this later required intensive community services to repair the damage.

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