by Pamela Curr
In May I wrote about three young men who were subject to arbitrary detention as a result of new legislation brought in May 2011 by Minister Bowen. [Rough
justice for asylum seekers]
I wrote about Babak (not his real name) who was recognised as a refugee in Jan 2011 and had a positive security check in April 2011. FIFTEEN MONTHS LATER AFTER PASSING THE IMMIGRATION SNAKES AND LADDERS GAME this young man is slowly losing his mind and spirit as he sits and waits in detention.
In Darwin today a man finally got his day in Court. This is happening all around Australia. New reasons have been dreamt up in the Canberra which keep victims of the arbitrary indefinite detention system locked away.
Babak was in the Christmas Island detention centre during the riots. For three days there were no meals. Some boxes of sandwiches were dumped a few times but never enough to go round, and Babak, a slight young man, missed out.
On the third night, Babak crawled through a broken window in a kitchen looking for food. He was too late. Many had been before him. All he found was a packet; he grabbed it, but when he got into the light, he discovered that it was turmeric, so he put it back.
Babak was charged with having “entered or is in the place of another person, without that other person’s consent” and given a $1,500 good behaviour bond.
The charge sheet was not even completed. There was no evidence or suggestion that he had broken the windows. He had been found to be a refugee two months before the incident and security cleared one month after.
He has been kept in immigration detention for a further 15 months and still waiting for after the kitchen charge is all over. He had no legal advice and they were all lined up to plead guilty and then given lawyers. this man was told by a guard that he had to plead guilty or you will not get a visa” out there on Christmas island with no independent advice. Now he faces indefinite detention as he waits for the “Principle Assessor” ( I kid you not -straight out of George Orwell) to determine as to whether he has failed the character test.
Under legislation which was amended in May 2011 and enacted in August the same year, a whole range of behaviours were listed as capable of “enlivening the Minister’s discretion” as to whether a person who had passed the refugee and security tests would be granted their freedom.
Under previous legislation, to fail the character test a person had to be charged with a serious crime, convicted, and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment.
Two more case studies here.