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Judicial review of ASIO underway

Judicial review of ASIO underway

Two Iraqi refugees who spent years in a Nauru detention centre after being deemed a security risk, only to be later granted refugee status, are seeking judicial review of ASIO's decision making…

Two Iraqi refugees who spent years in a Nauru detention centre after being deemed a security risk, only to be later granted refugee status, are seeking judicial review of ASIO's decision making processes.

The cases of Muhammad Faisal and Mohammed Sagar, who are being represented by Maurice Blackburn lawyers and Julian Burnside QC, were presented this morning before Justice Tracey at the Federal Court Melbourne.

Elizabeth O'Shea, lawyer for Maurice Blackburn's Social Justice Practice, said ASIO has continually refused to co-operate in releasing basic information and that judicial review was required in order to ensure that government agencies were held accountable for their actions.

"Our clients have unfair black marks against their names. They deserve to have them removed and to find out why they were put there in the first place," she said in a statement released today.

"After years of detention - with all its terrible consequences - these men were accepted as refugees, but ASIO has never been prepared to provide the reasons for assessing the men as a security risk in the first place.

"The effect of these adverse security assessments for people who are found to be refugees is very serious - 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."

Maurice Blackburn are modeling the case on a similar UK case concerning British resident and former-Guantanamo Bay inmate Binyam Mohamed. In that case, a court found that even a severe threat to national security should not automatically trump the public interest in open justice.

"Having this judicial review ensures the executive arm of government is kept in check," said O'Shea.

"Government departments make thousands of decisions every day that affect people's lives in significant ways. Like everybody, they can make mistakes. It is a fundamental part of a democratic society that there is a way to challenge these decisions."

Sagar will give video evidence from Sweden, while Faisal will give evidence in person at today's hearing.

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