16 January 2012

Australian immigration rulings leave refugees stranded

More than 50 refugees in Australia's detention centres have been informed that they will never be granted an Australian visa. However, despite being recognised by the UN as refugees, resettlement in another country is doubtful as they have also been labelled a threat by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Australia visa

The Australian immigration authority has refused to grant protection visas to more than 50 refugees.

While the thousands of asylum seekers in Australian detention centres hopefully await the news of whether they will be granted an Australian visa, over 50 detainees now face indefinite detention.

One such refugee is Harun Roshid, a Burmese asylum seeker who had already been in Australian detention for more than two years when he was informed he will never be a free man in Australia.

Due to his ethnicity as a member of the persecuted Rohingya people, Roshid is recognised as a refugee under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as the Australian immigration authority. However, ASIO has labelled him as a 'threat' and as such, has determined that he should be given a protection visa.

After fleeing Burma, Roshid lived in Malaysia for 15 years before boarding a boat to Australia in the hope of securing protection for his family but was detained shortly after in April 2010.

Roshid is currently detained at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin where he explained that he felt like he was "being punished".

In November 2011, ASIO returned an 'adverse assessment' in Roshid's case which the Australian immigration department will use to deny him a protection visa, meaning he cannot be released from detention.

In many cases, this would mean Roshid would now be deported back to Burma; however, as he has already been granted refugee status, the Australian government cannot deport him.

While it is still possible he will be resettled in another country, this is an unlikely prospect as he has been declared a threat.

The Australian government has come under fire recently for its immigration policies and, with a rise in boat arrivals from Iran and other at risk countries, human rights advocacy groups have claimed that Australia's process of handling refugees is arbitrary and have called for change.

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

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