Resources: information on Australia’s continuing detention of refugees who fail ASIO assessments

Last week the Federal Government, with the Opposition’s full support, passed legislation to keep around 50 refugees detained indefinitely.

These are people who have been found to legitimate refugees, but are still locked up for possibly the rest of their lives, because of adverse security assessments from ASIO. The legislation overrides a 2012 High Court ruling.

I’ve argued before that the security concerns could be well-founded, but that indefinite detention is unnecessary and unjustified. This post provides some links to resources for others opposed to this policy:


Immigration detainees with adverse security assessments v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Citizenship): Report into arbitrary detention and the best interests of the child
Australian Human Rights Commission
May 2013

Finds that the policy amounts to arbitrary detention, and that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) took no effort to explore whether detention was necessary for particular individuals, or whether less restrictive measures could address the security concerns.


Tell Me About: Refugees with Adverse Security Assessments
Australian Human Rights Commission
May 2013

Brief backgrounder explaining how the laws work and the human rights problems they raise.


Australia’s detention of 46 refugees ‘cruel and degrading,’ UN rights experts find
United Nations Human Rights Committee
August 2013

Press release containing links to two UN reports on this issue, which find Australia responsible for over 150 human rights violations.


Inquiry into the attendance of legal representatives at ASIO interviews, and related matters
Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
January 2014

Casts doubt on ASIO’s conduct when interviewing refugees for security assessments. For example:

I found that the approach taken by ASIO officers (as generally described by officers that I interviewed) currently tends to a default of strongly discouraging the attendance of lawyers. I do not believe that this is consistent with ASIO’s stated internal guidance and may not be consistent with the legal requirements……

From all of the information provided to me, I believe that ASIO has had an apparent practice of discouraging the attendance of lawyers at interviews, which seems inconsistent with the intent of its internal guidance.


Factsheet: Refugees with an adverse security assessment by ASIO
Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law
February 2014

Another backgrounder, but more up to date than the Australian Human Rights Commission one.


This is still breaking people: update on human rights violations at Australia’s asylum seeker processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea
Amnesty International
May 2014

This last resource doesn’t involve the ASIO security assessments at all. A couple of years ago, these 50-odd adversely-assessed refugees were the only people Australia was detaining indefinitely. Then in 2013 the Gillard government introduced “No Advantage”, and then we saw Rudd’s “PNG Solution”, followed by Abbott’s “Operation Sovereign Borders”. Now, Australia is in effect holding thousands of asylum seekers in indefinite detention (as their refugee claims are not being assessed).  This report outlines allegations of abuse in one of the detention centres, and the lack of response from Papua New Guinea or Australia.

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