Yesterday was mothers day, but Ranjini and her two sons, aged 6 and 8, didn’t celebrate. It was their fourth day of indefinite detention – without charge, without trial, without appeal.
How could this happen in Australia? Ranjini was verified as a refugee last year after fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka. She has been living in community detention in Melbourne and was married six weeks ago.
On Thursday, she was told to pick up her kids from school in Melbourne. ASIO had revised Ranjini’s security finding. As a refugee, she cannot be returned to Sri Lanka, so she and her kids will be held indefinitely in a residential section of Villawood detention centre. She has no right of appeal — nor even to know the case against her.
46 other refugees are currently detained under the same circumstances. On Friday morning, one of them, Kumar, attempted suicide in a Melbourne detention facility.
No matter what, we mustn’t allow anyone – let alone refugee children – to be detained indefinitely without appeal. Not in our country. Not in our name.
A parliamentary inquiry recently recommended an independent appeals process for cases like this; the Attorney-General is considering it right now. Let’s forward this to friends and family and demand the Attorney General takes urgent action to give refugees like Ranjini a right of appeal:
Independent review and appeal are basic principles of modern justice. ASIO, like all decision makers, must be subject to checks and balances.
This year, a Parliamentary Committee, chaired by a Government MP, came up with this and 30 other recommendations to reform immigration detention. They found that “acute mental illness is widespread across the detention network." Almost 90 per cent of detainees suffer clinically significant depression. Half have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a quarter report suicidal thoughts.
There are currently 46 refugees held in detention under these circumstances. Many arrived over two years ago, in 2009, fleeing civil war in Sri Lanka. One family, the Rahavans, have an child, nearly two years old, who was born in detention and has never been free.
No more. It’s time for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to respond to the Parliament’s own proposals – and to promise Australians that this will never happen again. Let’s start our campaign by making sure Australia hears about this injustice. Ask friends and family to join the urgent petition:
the GetUp team.