08 February 2012

Fijian woman wins Australian visa case

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The Australian Federal Magistrates Court has sided with a Fijian woman directly related to the overthrown Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, granting her an Australian visa and allowing her to remain in the country with her two children.

Australia visa

The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia granted the unnamed woman an Australian visa.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was denied an Australian visa in 2010 by former Australian immigration minister Chris Evans.

Her case was then referred to the Refugee Review Tribunal, who also denied the woman's case despite advice from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who said that, while the targeting of families of former Fijian ministers was unlikely, the new military regime in Fiji had been known to engage in 'threatening behaviour and intimidating conduct'.

However, the Federal Magistrates Court in Canberra criticised these rulings due to their consideration of the woman as an 'ordinary Fijian'.

The woman was seen on television supporting Mr Qarase, who was overthrown in a military coup in 2006, she was fired from her job and warned by the military authorities for associating with Mr Qarase.

Federal Magistrate Warwick Neville said the refugee tribunal should not have assessed the woman's case as they would any other Fijian.

"The reality is that the applicant cannot be properly described as an 'ordinary Fijian'. She is closely related to a deposed former prime minister," wrote Mr Neville.

"In the past she has lost her employment and had her email communications monitored."

The woman's lawyer claimed his client was very happy with decision and thanked a "very strong argument" which "showed the errors made by the tribunal and that very strong evidence was disregarded by the tribunal."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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