The following is a petition currently on change.org and recently signed by Bishop Vincent Long. Sign the petition here.
11 years is too long.
Hon Peter Dutton MP, we call on you to release A from detention and grant him his SHEV visa immediately!
Despite more than 11 years in detention, and being recognised as a refugee, A has still not been granted his liberty. Now he fears he will be transferred back to Christmas Island as part of the government’s reshuffle of the detention network in response to COVID-19. ‘Christmas Island is where I was first held; I cannot return there 11 years later,’ A said.
A Sri Lankan of Sinhalese ethnicity, A fled his country, in fear for his life, in the midst of bloodshed during the height of the civil war. He was 29 years old when he arrived in March 2009. A conviction for ‘people smuggling,’ relating to his journey to Australia, was overturned by the Court of Appeal in Western Australia in 2012, on the basis that the convicting jury did not properly consider the defence of ‘sudden or extraordinary emergency.’ A was never re-tried in relation to the offence. He has never before or since been convicted of any crime.
A applied for a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa and was recognised as a refugee in 2017. Despite this, in May 2019, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Peter Dutton, personally refused A’s application for a Protection visa finding that he failed the ‘character test.’
A’s lawyer, Sanmati Verma of Clothier Anderson Immigration Lawyers, said the case ‘highlights the dangerous trend of the Minister gainsaying and substituting his own opinion for that of a Court.’
On 27 February 2020, the Federal Court of Australia reversed the Minister’s decision.
But since then, A has remained in detention, awaiting a further decision.
In Sri Lanka, A has a young daughter and a son who he has never met. He recalls his first period on Christmas Island, more than ten years ago. ‘I fear not being able to use the phone, to see my daughter and son’ A said ‘after more than 10 years, I want to live freely.’
A’s multiple supporters in the community vouch for his character and know his compassion and resilience throughout this saga. They are shocked at his prolonged detention and call for his release immediately.
This petition was created by Sr Elizabeth Young RSM, Friends and supporters of A, Rural Australians for Refugees