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Australia required to prevent human rights violations found by UN
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Prasad family in Sydney, 2017
Joytika Prasad with her 12yo Australian son, Jasneel (image: Kate Geraghty, Fairfax)

Echoes of past violations by Australia

Threatened deportations risk repeating violations

Two imminent deportations echo UN communications in which the Human Rights Committee found Australia in breach, or potential breach, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Prasad family threatened with deportation to Fiji

A Sydney couple is threatened with deportation despite having dependent children with Australian citizenship.

Jitend & Joytika Prasad are Indo-Fijians who arrived in Australia in 2000 shortly after the coup in which Fiji's first-ever ethnic Indian Prime Minister was overthrown.

They were subject to threats and violence directed at Indo-Fijians and applied for asylum in Australia.

The couple has since had 3 children born in Australia, now aged 15, 12 and 3.  The elder two children have acquired Australian citizenship, while the youngest has not yet.

The Refugee Review Tribunal has found that the couple can safely return to Fiji, but the family has asked the government to keep them together in Australia.  The Dept of Immigration has rejected their appeals.

Says their lawyer, Christopher Levingston, "The failure of the Minister to act in the best interests of Australian citizen children is inconsistent with the precept that the family is the fundamental unit of society." (ICCPR article 23)

The matter echoes 2 previous UN communications in which long-standing Australian residents were threatened with deportation, in violation of the rights of their Australian citizen children.

In 2004, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) found that deporting Frank Madafferi would amount to arbitrary interference with his family, in conjunction with treaty provisions protecting the family and children (art 17, 23 & 24).

In 2015, the HRC found Australia's expulsion of Mansour Leghaei after a “long-settled family life” in Australia, which forced his family to choose between accompanying him or remaining behind, constituted arbitrary interference with the family (art 17 & 23).

Australia is obliged to prevent recrudescent abuses.  The obligation to provide an effective remedy (ICCPR art 2(3)) includes acting to "prevent similar violations" recurring.

The Prasads were arrested on 10 April 2017; father Jitend was sent to Villawood detention centre and Joytika placed under guard in an apartment with the 3 children.

They are reported to have a complaint pending with the Australian Human Rights Commission, and a rights-based appeal before the Federal Magistrates Court.
 





 



Maryanne Caric as a child (front left) with her family (image: ABC)

Life-long Australian resident faces deportation to Croatia

Brisbane woman Maryanne Caric, a convicted drug trafficker, is facing deportation to Croatia, a country she left as a baby.

Ms Caric migrated to Australia with her family when she was 2. Her father was a violent alcoholic and she ran away from home at 14. She acquired a drug habit and eventually started selling drugs to feed her addiction, leading to multiple convictions and many years in jail.

Australia deports non-citizens sentenced to more than 12 months in prison.  They can appeal to the Immigration Minister for a compassionate exemption, but lawyer Jason Donnelly estimates that "at least 80%" of people in Ms Caric’s situation are deported.

This continued program of automatic deportation with scarce exceptions suggests Australia is at risk of repeating the violations suffered by Stefan Nystrom in a very similar scenario.

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee found that in deporting Mr Nystrom Australia had arbitrarily interfered with his right to family.

Further, in a landmark decision, it found that although Mr Nystrom is not an Australian citizen, his 'right to enter his own country' applies in his case to Australia (ICCPR art. 12).

Australia has failed to halt or to remedy the ongoing violations against Mr Nystrom, and now it appears set to repeat them.


Like Mr Nystrom, Ms Caric has never left Australia, and did not realise she was not an Australian citizen.  She knows no-one in her country of birth and does not speak the language.

She has been in Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney for a year now.

Explains Ms Caric:

"I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me.  I have done all my jail, I’ve been punished.  I have lost everything.

"They’re sending me to a foreign country.  I don’t know a soul, I can’t read and write.  I’m 52 years old.  What do I do? Become a bag lady on the street?

"The only thing I have left now is my family.  I have 2 grandchildren, that’s all I have left, and now they want to take that from me."

Her lawyer Jason Donnelly says, “Effectively what Australia is doing -- particularly with long-term non-citizens like Maryanne -- is deporting our problems.  Maryanne learned her drug problem in this country, she learned her crimes in this country, in fact she learned everything about her life in this country, and sending her back to Croatia is effectively deporting Australia’s problems.”

The Immigration Department has acknowledged that Ms Caric, “having been away from her country of origin for close to 50 years and having no personal support network there, together with her health and substance abuse issues," will find it "extremely difficult" to adjust to life in Croatia.  And yet it wants to proceed with the deportation.

Ms Caric is appealing the decision.

David Hicks speaking to the media in 2015, when his guilty verdict was "set aside and dismissed, and [his] sentence vacated" by a US military tribunal.  (photo: The Justice Campaign)

Dispute over remedy for David Hicks

In February 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee published its most high-profile Australian decision to date, finding in favour of David Hicks.

The HRC found that Mr Hicks' detention of over 6 years was arbitrary, violating article 9(1) of the Covenant.

However, the Committee could not reach a unanimous decision and recommended an unusual remedy for this grave breach of human rights.

Australia has responded by rejecting the Committee's findings -- "part of a long-running, consistent pattern of non-compliance," says Hicks, whereby Australia has failed "to provide effective remedies in the overwhelming majority of adverse findings made against it." 
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Thank you for supporting Remedy Australia.
Nick Toonen OAM
Director
Remedy Australia
Dr Olivia Ball
Director
Remedy Australia
Copyright © 2017 Remedy Australia, All rights reserved.


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