Commission welcomes announcement of independent review of adverse security assessments

Commission welcomes announcement of independent review of adverse security assessments

The Australian Human Rights Commission has welcomed the Attorney-General’s announcement that the Australian Government will provide an independent review process for refugees who have been refused a permanent visa as a result of an adverse security assessment by ASIO.

Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs said this is an important acknowledgment that there needs to be greater transparency and accountability in the application of ASIO security assessments to asylum seekers and refugees.

“The Commission has long held concerns about the situation of people who have received adverse security assessments, and has argued that they should have access to effective review of their adverse security assessments. Until now, people who have been issued with adverse assessments have not been told why the assessment was made and have not been able to have the assessment reviewed,” Professor Triggs said.

The Commission is also pleased that people who request review of their adverse security assessment will be provided with an unclassified summary of reasons for the decision to issue them with an adverse security assessment.

However, the Commission continues to hold concerns that the review process announced is not equivalent to that offered to other people in Australia who have received adverse security assessments, such as permanent residents and special purpose visa holders, who have access to the Security Appeals Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Moreover, the Independent Reviewer can only provide an opinion about whether the assessment is appropriate and make recommendations to the Director General of ASIO.

In addition, the Commission continues to be concerned at the ongoing detention of people who have received adverse security assessments, both during the period of the review, which may take some time, and possibly after a review if an adverse security assessment is confirmed. There are currently seven children of people who have received adverse assessments who have spent prolonged periods of time in detention.

We again encourage the government to conduct an individual assessment of the ongoing need to detain all people who have received adverse security assessments as soon as possible.

“If a person with an adverse security assessment is not granted a protection visa, alternative visa options should be considered; or alternatives to indefinite detention in closed facilities including community detention with the imposition of conditions if necessary to mitigate any identified risks”.

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