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