Australian Federal Court Says Immigration Minister’s Conduct Disgraceful Over Treatment Of Afghan Refugee

The Federal Court has issued a scathing judgement of the conduct of the Immigration Minister David Coleman in the case of an Afghan refugee who was detained, despite a tribunal order to release him.
Lawyers Weekly Australia reports

Solicitors Mark Northam and Sergio Zanotti Stagliorio of Northam Lawyers had secured the release of their client PDWL (a pseudonym), who was unlawfully held in immigration detention for six days after being granted a visa by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The case relates to an Afghan refugee of Hazara ethnicity who arrived in Australia in 2012 and applied for a Safe Haven Enterprise refugee protection visa in 2016.

The March 2020 decision by Justice Michael Wigney at the Federal Court of Australia criticised the Minister for Immigration, who had continued to detain the man “simply because [he] did not like the tribunal’s decision.”

Initially, PDWL was refused a protection visa after failing to meet the character test requirements under the Immigration Act due to an earlier criminal conviction. 

But on 11 March 2020, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned the department’s decision and granted him with the protection visa.

Immigration Minister David Coleman then appealed that decision to the Federal Court, but instead of releasing PDWL – as they were legally obliged to do – the government continued to hold him in immigration detention.

In a 24-page decision, Justice Wigney repeatedly criticised the government for continuing to hold the man in immigration detention for several days after having informed the court that he was “in the process of being released.”

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