24 October 2011

Australian immigration department to pay damages to wrongful detainee

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The Australian Human Rights Commission has found the Department of Immigration and Citizenship arbitrarily detained an Indian national for breaching visa rules and may have to pay compensation.

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The Australian Human Rights Commissioned has found that an Indian foreign student was 'arbitrarily' held in immigration detention for 18 months.

The Australian immigration department may be compelled to pay as much as $600,000 to an immigration detainee following a case at the Human Rights Commission.

Former Indian-born student of engineering Prashant Cherkupalli made a submission to the Human Rights Commission after being held in Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre for 18 months for undertaking paid work in contravention of the rules of his Australia visa for study.

The commission has ruled that Mr Cherkupalli's was an "arbitrary detention" and violates the Migration Act.  Cherkupalli's lawyer Tom Mithieux said the ruling of the Human Rights Commission makes the immigration department liable for damages.

"The commission found Cherkupalli should be paid nearly 600,000 Australian dollars in compensation. It takes into account general damages, which is generally looking at the hurt and humiliation I suppose of being arbitrarily detained for that period of time. There is also some scope for past economic loss," Mr Mithieux said.

However, rulings of the Human Rights Commission are not binding under Australian law and the immigration department has indicated Cherkupalli is still scheduled for deportation.

Cherkupalli and his legal team have also lodged a claim for unlawful imprisonment in the NSW Supreme Court.

Australian Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy that specialises in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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