ATC in the media

ATC in the media

SMH - Gillard's Timor solution: reaction

The Age - Sri Lanka has improved but people still 'vulnerable'

SMH - Mixed reaction over offshore processing

ATC in the media – Counteraction to SL gov smear campaign

ATC in the media – Counteraction to SL gov smear campaign The Age – Most Tamils real refugees, say experts THE majority of Tamil asylum seekers are genuine refugees and claims they are radicals and terrorist sympathisers are a fiction being pushed by the Sri Lankan government, experts say.

The response comes after claims were aired that as many as half of the more than 1000 Tamil asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia since 2008 are either former Tamil Tigers or their supporters.

Terrorism expert at the Australian National University, Clive Williams, said most Tamils would, as a necessity, have contact with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), given the group ruled a large swath of northern Sri Lanka, but that did not make them potential terrorists.

To read more go to:

Al Jazeera - Interview with Dr Sam Pari - 10 Nov 2010

Australian Government is urged to release Tamil Refugees with Adverse Security Assessment

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) welcomes findings by Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a report tabled in Parliament on 26 November that Sri Lankan refugees with adverse security assessments from Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) were arbitrarily detained in closed immigration detention facilities which included young children.

The AHRC report states the Department of Immigration and Citizenship failed to assess whether the circumstances of each individual complainant indicated that they could be placed in less restrictive forms of detention. Instead, the Minister determined not to allow anyone with an adverse security assessment in relation to a visa application to be placed in community detention.

"It appears that no comprehensive and individualised assessment has been undertaken in respect of each complainant to assess whether they pose any risk to the Australian community and whether any such risk could be addressed (for example by the imposition of particular conditions) without their being required to remain in an immigration detention facility" AHRC's Ms Branson said.

"We welcome the release of the AHRC report and the announcement of the Attorney General Hon Nicola Roxon on the commencement of an Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments on 3 December 2012. We are confident that Hon Margaret Stone will conduct this process with integrity" said Dr Bala Vigneswaran from the Australian Tamil Congress.

He further added "The number of Tamil refugees with adverse security assessment is staggering, with nearly 50 people in detention and some have been in detention as long as three and a half years These refugees include, a family with three children, a pregnant mother with two children, a war widow with a child (some of these children were born in detention) and several victims of war with severe mental and physical ailments ".

ATC urges the federal government to expedite the review of the cases of all the refugees deemed security threats and to take appropriate steps to release them to live in the community.

ATC maintains that a solution to the asylum seeker crisis can only be achieved by dealing with the root cause, and urges Australia to join other concerned countries to address the push factors by increasing pressure on Sri Lanka to uphold the rights of Tamils in the island.

Media Contact

Dr Bala Vigneswaran

Australian Tamil Congress 0404404777

Court halts deportation of 56 Tamil men- The court action brought by ATC and refugee advocate Ian Rintoul

The deportation of 56 Tamil men was halted after a dramatic hearing at the High Court in Sydney late on Monday.

The department agreed to halt the men's forcible deportation, expected to take place this morning (TUESDAY) and all parties will reappear in court on Thursday.

A department spokesman said it was ‘‘not uncommon’’ for the department to face legal challenges of this kind, but no other deportations would be affected by the hearing.

He said the department "will continue to remove unlawful non-citizens where it is in accordance with the Migration Act".

The court action was brought by refugee advocate Ian Rintoul and Bala Vigneswaran from the Australian Tamil Congress.

Tamil community supporters had become highly upset after the Immigration Department moved on Friday to forcibly deport several Tamils.

A list of 56 Tamils in the detention network and threatened with deportation was drawn up and on Sunday lawyers received written instruction from seven men.

Mr Vigneswaran said he was deeply concerned the asylum seekers were not being given a fair hearing.

"If they file their case and they are found not to be refugees, that is understandable. But not to given them an opportunity to present their claims properly is unfair," he said.

A department spokesman said no blanket decision had been taken not to accept Sri Lankans and each claim would be assessed individually.

But he said a claim by a person they face persecution in their home country did not automatically trigger Australia's international obligations.

Mr Rintoul said 35 Tamil men who Australia had returned to Sri Lanka had been arrested last friday and taken to Negombo prison, outside Colombo.

He said several of them had told Australian officials of their fears of return, and said they would rather die than be sent back.

"Screening out is a travesty of justice," Mr Rintoul said. "All asylum seekers should have access to independent legal advice."

Page 4 of 6