| 30.11,11. 09:42 AM |
Risky refugees told to apply for community release
November 30, 2011
THE Commonwealth Ombudsman has claimed immigration detainees with negative security assessments were being told by departmental officials that they could now apply for release into community detention.
The claims have been made in a highly critical report released last week into long-term asylum seeker detention.
It comes in the wake of the government's decision to return to onshore processing.
The Ombudsman's report claims detainees with adverse security findings were being encouraged to apply for release despite being allegedly involved in aggressive behaviour or riots.
In one case, following the Christmas Island riots, the report claimed: "Mr XXX has applied for community detention following advice from his case manager that persons with a negative security clearance may now be considered for community detention.
"DIAC advised that Mr XXX was charged with the offences of riot and possession of weapons following an incident on Christmas Island on 21 November 2009, however was acquitted of these charges at the Perth Magistrates Court."
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen rejected the claims, saying no detainee with a negative security assessment would be released into the community.
"The Ombudsman's report is incorrect - this is not what occurs in practice," Mr Bowen's spokesman said.
"As the minister has stated publicly, and in response to the Ombudsman's report, he will not under any circumstances grant community detention placement for anyone considered to be of security concern, including negative assessment cases.
"As the report also states, none of the detainees referred to have been or will be granted community detention."
Yesterday the government released its own report into the Christmas Island and Villawood riots, which blamed severe overcrowding. The 184 page Hawke/Williams report found the department and the company that manages detention centres, Serco, not to be at fault.