Paul P. Mealing

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Saturday, 19 May 2012

This is meant to be Australia

Ranjini was found to be a genuine refugee before ASIO decided last week she is a security risk for Australia. But the government won't tell her why, and now she's facing a life in detention. (The Age, 18 May 2012, front page)

It’s unbelievable that you can be detained indefinitely in this country without being given a reason, so that there is no defence procedure by law and no appeal process. The defendant in this case, Ranjini, can’t even confess because she’s a ‘risk’, not a criminal, apparently. As far as we can tell, she’s being detained in case she plans to execute a terrorist act; the truth is we don’t know because no one is allowed to tell us. What is unimaginably cruel is to give someone hope and then take it away with a phone call and a brief, closed interview. She’s been living in Australia since 2004.

To quote The Age:

Because she does not know what she is accused of doing, or saying, she cannot defend herself. Because there is no mechanism for an independent review of ASIO's finding, she, like the other 46, faces indefinite detention, along with two boys who were beginning to show signs of recovering from the traumas of their past.

Under the guise of ‘security reasons’, an apparent law-abiding housewife (who is also pregnant) can be incarcerated with her 2 school-age boys without even her husband knowing why. Australia is not meant to be a totalitarian government so why do we behave like one. The Minister for the Attorney General’s Department, Nicola Roxon, has so far dodged any questions on the issue. This is a law that is clearly unworkable (if it can’t be appealed or defended) born out of the post-9/11 paranoia that has seized all Western democratic countries and compromised our principles.

As is evident in the Haneef case in 2007, police and investigators tread a thin line in prosecuting possible terrorist suspects and protecting their civil liberties. In Haneef’s case, who was eventually not convicted, and other cases that have been successfully prosecuted, there have been specific accusations, involvement of the DPP and Federal Police, as well as ASIO. In the case of Ranjini, from what has been revealed thus far, there is only a risk assessment from ASIO and no specific accusations. One suspects that, because she’s a refugee, no one would care or kick up a fuss, or that the story would become front-page news in The Age.

This is not a law suited to a 21st Century, Western democratic country; it’s a law suited to a paranoid totalitarian government.

Addendum 1: Here is a TV presentation of the story.

Addendum 2: This whole issue has a history going back 6 months at least and revealed here. We actually treat criminals better than this. The reason that the government gets away with this is because refugees are demonised in our society. Refugees don't vote and lots of people who do vote think that all refugees should be locked up indefinitely or sent back to where they come from. It's a sad indictment on our society.

Addendum 3: A lawyer is about to challenge the law in Australia's High Court. The last time it was challenged, the High Court rejected it 4 to 3, from memory, which only demonstrates that even the highest people in the land will follow political lines rather than the basic human rights of individuals.


Eli Horowitz said...

I fear we've set a bad precedent for you on this one :-/

Paul P. Mealing said...

Yes, talking to someone else about this, before I wrote the post, said it was the 'American' influence.

Regards, Paul.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Please tell me this is a joke.

Paul P. Mealing said...


I remember when this law was introduced under the previous Howard government, we were assured it wouldn't be abused, but, with no checks or transparency, how can we tell?

Even with the Haneef case, that I reference, his lawyer was very brave and went public, challenging a situation where no formal charges are laid. I've forgotten how long Haneef was kept in custody without being charged, but it was the first test of our new, so-called 'national security' laws.

Haneef's cousin (I think it was a cousin) was involved in a terrorist attack in the UK in 2007 and it was found that the relation had a sim-card in Haneef's name in his mobile phone, hence the suspicion. In the end, there was no evidence found agains Haneef, but the government of the day decided to deport him anyway, to save face.

Law enforcement agencies, in all their guises, rarely admit that they've made a mistake.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing said...

I've left 2 Addenda (with video links) on this issue: one from Nov.11 and one from this week.

Regards, Paul.