14 May 2012

Uzbek refugee proves Australia visa fraud to gain asylum

An Uzbek man has been granted asylum in Australia after proving the documents on his original Australia visa were forged.

Australia visa

In an unusual case, the man has been permitted to remain in Australia by proving the documents used to gain his Australia visa were forged.

The man, who cannot be named, arrived in the country in 2010 on a valid Australia visa after his Uzbek police checks and medical certificates were provided to the Department of Immigrant and Citizenship (DIAC).

However, after three months in Australia the man claimed that he was escaping persecution in his home country as a member of the Scientology faith.

The refugee claimed that as a persecuted member of Scientology, in a country that is approximately 90% Muslim, he had been assaulted by Uzbek police who had broken his nose and 'squished' his fingers.

The man said he converted to Scientology from Islam in 2006 and began translating the religion's texts from Russian to distribute to others. He claims he was summoned to a local police station where he was accused of spying against the regime of dictatorial president Islam Karimov.

Following these accusations, the man said he faced discrimination at his home:

"Our neighbours started a hate campaign against me," said the man. "Once, two men from the neighbourhood beat me with sticks and stabbed me with a knife. Dead animals thrown through my windows, faeces smeared on my door, abusive colleagues, I cannot list all the things that were very scary and threatening.

The man's claim was initially rejected by Australian immigration authorities who found it implausible that he would be granted a clean police check if he had been so assaulted.

But the man, who is now living in Sydney, managed to persuade the Refugee Review Tribunal that the documents which would allow him to leave had been forged by a fellow member of the underground Scientology church of which he was a member.

'It is entirely plausible that those assisting him got fraudulently prepared documents to assist his visa application and that he would have no knowledge of them," found the tribunal, who granted the man's claim to remain in Australia.

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

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