05 January 2012

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation condemns Kuwaiti child refugee

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A Kuwaiti asylum seeker accused of repeatedly attempting suicide after a year in an immigration detention centre has become the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation's (ASIO) first adverse security assessment against a refugee who first arrived in Australia as a child.

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Ali Abbas has been informed he faces indefinite detention due to security concerns.

The 18 year old Ali Abbas who arrived in Australia by boat alone in 2010 at the age of 16 has been condemned by the ASIO to deportation or indefinite detention. His lawyers have not been provided with an explanation.

An ASIO spokesman confirmed that this case was the first time an adverse security assessment to "an irregular maritime arrival aged under 18 years". However, despite the ASIO giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry in December claiming that no child has been blocked as a refugee on security grounds, the Australian immigration department requesting the agency to assess over 300 cases of teenagers aged between 16 and 18.

The spokesman said "this adverse security assessment was issued subsequent to ASIO's appearance at the parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention"

Ali Abbas was officially informed of his assessment on December 15th, the same day his lawyers challenged his continual detention in the federal court and just weeks before he turned 18 on December 31.

The decision has sparked an outcry from refugee groups with the Children Out of Immigration Detention chairwoman Kate Gauthier expressing her concern that the agency's criteria for assessing such cases was unlikely to coincide with the UN's Refugee Convention Security Guidelines.

She also said "We would find it hard pressed to see how a child could have committed serious crimes against humanity or poses an ongoing threat to the Australian community" and that the ASIO lacked expertise when it came to dealing with children.

This claim has already been refuted by the director-general of ASIO, David Irvine who dismissed the allegations that the ASIO assessed young children in November.

The Australian immigration department found Abbas to be a genuine refugee in April, meaning he cannot be forcibly deported to Kuwait. While he awaits his fate a federal court judge has recommended the immigration department to transfer Abbas to a "supportive residential or family based environment" after medical evidence suggested his mental and physical safety was at risk.


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