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Lawyer slams immigrant's treatment

Lawyer slams immigrant's treatment

A leading lawyer has today confirmed the Department of Immigration had no legal reason to detain a Lebanese immigrant who has lived in Australia for 33 years.

A leading lawyer has today confirmed the Department of Immigration had no legal reason to detain a Lebanese immigrant who has lived in Australia for 33 years.

Australian Human Rights Commission president, Cathy Branson QC, said today that administrative failures has resulted in the “unnecessary and arbitrary detention of a man with a mental illness”.

A report tabled in federal Parliament today shows how the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship breached the human rights of Ahmed El Masri under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Department failed to conduct a thorough and timely review of the ongoing legality of El Masri’s detention in 2005, in light of a then recent decision by the full Federal Court. The failure led to El Masri being arbitrarily detained for 90 days.

“The unacceptable delay in reviewing [El Masri’s] case prevented his early release from immigration detention at a time when all the medical experts agreed that the best place to treat his mental illness was in the community,” said Branson.

The Department reportedly did not check Federal Court records when they detained El Masri in 2006, Branson said. She said the prolonged placement of El Masri for 77 days breached his right to be treated humanely in detention. 

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