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Adverse ASIO Assessments

Latest news

High Court challenge launched against Ranjini's indefinite detention

News 5 July 2013: High Courth challenge launched against Ranjini's indefinite detention
Human rights lawyer David Manne is leading this test case against the indefinite detention of Ranjini, the Sri Lankan woman detained because of an adverse ASIO assessment. 'She's never broken any law and she's never had the chance to defend herself in court against this security assessment.' Read/watch this report by Lateline.

Good news: Refugee family released after four years in detention

News 24 June 2013: We were delighted when the Rahavan family, who are refugees from Sri Lanka, were released from immigration detention after four years. The Rahavan family arrived in Australia in 2009 and the Australian Government found that they were genuine refugees. However, ASIO found that both Sumathy and Rahavan Yoganchandran did not pass their security assessments. For four years, the Rahavans were held at Villawood detention centre with their three children. Their youngest child was born in detention, and has only known life there.

Their detention was indefinite. There is no time limit on how long the Government can hold a refugee who has a negative security assessment. And they weren’t alone. Fifty-four refugees are currently in detention because of negative ASIO decisions. Six children are living in detention because of this policy.

They have had no right to see the ASIO information against them. They have had no right to challenge the assessment.

What has changed? Late last year, the Government established an Independent Reviewer, former Federal Court justice Margaret Stone, to look at all refugees who have a negative ASIO decision. The Rahavan’s case is the first decision by Margaret Stone as part of her review that challenges the original security assessments. This week ASIO accepted her findings and the Rahavans and their children were released into the community.

Not all news is positive: Margaret Stone agreed with ASIO in three other refugee cases. They have no options to appeal her decision and continue to face indefinite detention.  One of those is Ranjini, a mother with three children held in detention for one year. Her youngest child is six months old. They will have to wait until 12 months before their cases are reviewed by Margaret Stone again. This means the families and their children will be locked up again for another 12 months until their case is reviewed once more. Thirty-nine refugees are still waiting to go through Margaret Stone’s review. They do not have access to all the ASIO information against them, and even if Margaret Stone finds in their favour, ASIO do not have to accept her recommendation. Read on Amnesty International website.

News 15 October 2012: The Government has reformed the ASIO assessment process for asylum seekers to allow independent review of cases where an asylum seeker has been given an negative ASIO assessment. Margaret Stone, retired federal court judge, has been appointed the first independent reviewer, with the ability to assess all the material ASIO has used to decide someone is a threat. Asylum seekers who have been given a negative assessment will also have the right to have negative assessments reviewed every 12 months.

News 5 October 2012: The High Court has ruled that an asylum seeker deemed by ASIO to be a security risk can still be granted a refugee visa. In a case brought by David Manne on behalf of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker, a majority of the High Court held that a decision to refuse the asylum seeker a protection visa after he received an adverse security assessment by ASIO had not been made according to law, and that a regulation which prevented the grant of the protection visa was invalid.

News 24 May 2012: A High Court challenge is being mounted against Australia's indefinite detention of refugees who have adverse ASIO security assessments. Read or listen to this radio interview on ABC's AM.

News 22 May 2012 - The Australian Greens will introduce legislation in the next sitting fortnight to amend the ASIO Act so that refugees are no longer detained indefinitely because of adverse security assessments which cannot be challenged.


May 2012 - Indefinite detention without being charged for a crime? It's hard to believe, but this is happening in Australia. Currently over 50 refugees are being detained indefinitely, because although they have been found to be a refugee, they have been given an adverse assessment by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).The problem is that refugees who receive an adverse assessment by ASIO are not allowed to know the evidence or the reasoning behind the assessment. They have no right to know of, or respond to, any evidence or allegations against them, so no way of refuting or disproving the allegations. They have no practical way of getting this decision reviewed. A person in this situation will be refused a visa and will therefore be detained indefinitely in immigration detention. Many people issued with adverse security assessments have been detained for a number of years in Australian detention facilities and are suffering acute mental health problems. (Source: NSW Council for Civil Liberties and Liberties Victoria)

More information

Open Letter to the Attorney General, the Hon Nicola Roxon, from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and Liberties Victoria.

Sydney Morning Herald article: Refugees’ ASIO despair, 16 May 2012. ‘They are caught in a legal limbo, not permitted to see the evidence against them, nor to know the criteria ASIO uses to make its assessment’.