17 November 2010

Longest serving detainee granted Australian Visa

The Australian Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen has announced that Australia's longest-serving detainee has been granted a visa.

The woman, referred to in public documents only as Ms X, had been in detention for about nine-and-a-half years. The former minister Chris Evans used his public interest powers to grant her a permanent Australian Visa in September, and she was released.

Ms X’s detention has been controversial.

In October 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) found that Ms X's extended period of detention, without any substantive judicial review, was arbitrary and because of that reason Australia had breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

If Ms X was deported back to her home country - without China promising not to harm her - Australia risked another breach of its international obligations.

A report by the acting commonwealth and immigration ombudsman Ron Brent, tabled in the Senate on Wednesday, stated the woman was still languishing in community detention.

However, Australian  immigration Minister Chris Bowen stated that Ms X had been released from detention and granted a visa on the orders of Senator Evans.

Mr Bowen noted concerns about the length of time Ms X had been in detention, and said transitional support to help her “reside lawfully in the community" was being arranged.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian Visa application with the Australian High Commission

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