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Thursday, January 14, 2010

We're ASIO, we're right, believe us

Who knows - ASIO's assessment that five tamil refugees originally from Sri Lanka pose a danger to national security, opinion formed before they arrived in the country, might be right. But the five, let alone the rest of us won't be be able to assess or test ASIO's findings. Pamela Curr pointed out the problem with this in The Age on Tuesday. Today's Sydney Morning Herald has the Minister for Immigration, Chris Evans, saying even he did not know what the security concerns were. ''Those decisions are made by ASIO and they don't discuss the detail of those things,'' he said.

Absolute faith in the infallibility of any agency is a big call, and a mistaken one in ASIO's case according to a former Immigration officer, and David Manne, a refugee lawyer, both quoted in the article.
 "... Manne, said secrecy was part of the problem. People suspected of being a risk were never told why. ''ASIO gets information but it never puts it to the person,'' he said. ''These people are stuck in indefinite detention but it's impossible to find out what the concerns are.'' The process had to be made transparent and subject to independent scrutiny. ''ASIO has made serious mistakes in the past,'' he said. ''It's crucial that we don't revert to the previous situation where these people's plight became a political football.'

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