Refugee to be released after Fed Govt overturns ASIO ruling

22 May 2013
Maurice Blackburn lawyers today confirms that its client Manokala Jenaddarsan, a refugee and widow who is in Villawood Detention Centre, with her six-year-old son Ragavan, will be able to obtain a visa and allowed to live in the community after a further review by ASIO and intervention by a federal minister.

This is only the second time ASIO has overturned its own adverse security assessment (ASA) based on "new information and changing circumstances."

Today Ms Jenaddarsan received a letter from the Department of Immigration stating that the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O'Connor had exercised his power under section 46A(2) of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. ASIO has also confirmed in a statement to media that they have reviewed their decision.

Ms Jenaddarsan fled from Sri Lanka in 2009 after her husband was killed. She was found to be eligible for a protection visa but was given an adverse security assessment in October 2011 and was put into detention housing in Villawood where she has been living since with her 6-year-old son Ragavan who has been granted a temporary protection visa. Ragavan had his 6th birthday on Sunday 19 May. 

Giri Sivaraman, principal from Maurice Blackburn said:

"We are very pleased that Manokala and Ragavan can now live in the community because their ongoing detention has caused great psychological harm and distress to them both. We haven't been given a time and date for her release but it could be very soon," said Mr Sivaraman.

"Manokala is one of 55 refugees who were deemed by ASIO to be a security risk and who have never been told why they have been given this adverse security assessment.

"The effect of these adverse security assessments for people who are found to be refugees is truly dreadful. They are given scant information about what has led ASIO to its decision.

"They have to live in a twilight zone - not able to settle properly in a new country and not able to return to their home country.

"We hope that the government will step in and extend some compassion to other refugees who have been given adverse security assessments and that there is some onus on government agencies to have some transparency around their decision making. It's a particularly cruel to keep people locked up without telling them why."

The other case where an ASA was overturned occurred in 2007 when Mohammad Faisal who spent years on Nauru, was evacuated because his mental health deteriorated.

Maurice Blackburn also represented Mr Faisal.

Maurice Blackburn Social Justice Practice

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