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Islamic cleric deported, despite UN call

Longtime Webdiiarist Dale Mills (co-ordinator of the 2007 APEC Human Rights Monitors) happily consented to Webdiary republishing this  recent Green Left Weekly piece.  Thanks Dale!  As Webdiary's July 4 tenth anniversary looms, its great to see a not-so-old-and -familiar face around the place!

Iranian cleric Dr Mansour Leghaei is being removed from Australia after being resident here for 16 years. Immigration minister Chris Evans has refused to allow Leghaei to stay, following an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Leghaei has committed no crime, incited no hatred and is the father of one of Australia's “working families” — that demographic otherwise loved by the Australian government. As he is not an Australian citizen, he is unable to challenge ASIO's security assessment.

He has no idea of the allegations against him, except for the allegation of having taken part in “foreign interference”.

In effect, he has been found guilty of unknown offences.

Laghaei's family consists of his wife, Marzieh, and their four children. As Laghaei must leave before the end of June, the order to leave Australia would split the family if Marzieh and the children stayed. But Laghaei has indicated that the family would stay together, in effect meaning an deportation for the whole family.

The deportation order follows a November 2007 request by the immigration department for him to "voluntarily deport"..

In the May 18 Australian, Leghaei said: "I have never and I will never be any risk to any individual. I know myself I don’t have any links to any political parties, Iranian parties or any other parties. I am not a political person.”

Laghaei's lawyer, Ben Saul, has asked the Australian government to delay his client’s removal until the completion of an investigation by the United Nations into possible violations of international law.

On April 21, the UN Human Rights Committee asked Australia not to remove Laghaei until it could investigate his case further.

According to the Australian, an immigration department spokesperson said, despite the UN investigation, “it is the government's expectation that Dr Leghaei will now comply with the minister's decision and depart Australia of his own accord”.

In the US, Britain and Europe, people who are the subject of an adverse security assessment are at least given the outline of the case against them, so explanations can be given to correct mistakes or confusions relating to the case against them, or even to dispel false allegations given by hostile governments.

But, as Saul explained, Laghaei has simply received "a letter accusing him of being a national security risk and he has got no basis on which to assess that claim”, said the Australian.

Laghaei arrived in Australia on a temporary business visa. His application for permanent residency was rejected on ASIO advice in 1997. He has been fighting ASIO since.

Although the security assessment of Laghaei is secret, it apparently rests on a notebook taken from him when he returned to Australia from an overseas trip in 1996.

It apparently shows details on “spying” (details of the assessment not disclosed) and “jihad” — a word used by international terrorists, but also a word constituting a central part of Islamic theology.

Laghaei is, after all, a cleric. And an Iranian spy is likely to be better trained than to have notes on “spying” in their luggage.

He appealed to the Federal Court in 2005, but it ruled national security considerations overruled any notion of procedural fairness or natural justice.

Last week, the High Court declined an application for him to appeal against the decision. Laghaei said that because he had four dependants who were Australian residents, including one child who was born in Australia, he could not be forcibly deported.

Legal experts disagreed, saying the Immigration Act trumped the Family Court Act.

This led the Australian government solicitor, acting for ASIO, to ask Laghaei to voluntarily leave the country.

The case against Laghaei is similar the forced removal of Scott Parkin from Australia. Parkin, a US peace activist, was arrested on a Melbourne street in 2005 on the way to an anti-war meeting.

Like Laghaei, Parkin was removed with no evidence or specific allegations being given. His attempts to find out the reason for his removal are still worming their way through the courts, with an anticipated trial due in 2012.

Other cases in which migration law has been used for political motives include the Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef and many refugee cases.

By using immigration law to silence people who are politically embarrassing, Australia is adopting a “whole of government”
approach to silence people it does not agree with.

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Deporting refugees to East Timor

Could someone enlighten me on the law?

1. Once a person claims asylum on Australian land, can they be forcibly moved (deported) to land that is not Australian?

2. Isn't an embassy sovereign territory with regard to Refugee law? Can't a person simply walk into an embassy overseas and seek protection?

3. If an Australian (refugee advocate) takes a vessel, fills it with refugees and brings it back to Australia, can the vessel be physically stopped in international territory (without committing piracy), and once in Australian waters if not on land, can't the refugees seek asylum?   

Sir Humphrey, Urquart, and the other Machiavellis

 It depends on how you interpret the law, Jay?

Refugee advocates; Marilyn Shepherd for example, am presuming,  would suggest that our response to people-movement is theoretically illegal as well as as immoral.

Let's not forget the reams of court judgements and legal readings Marilyn provided over several years on refugees.

Yet some court challenges appear either to have not succeeded before a court or, more often, governments appear not to have responded to a legal reading in policy change, legislation or/ or governance terms, instead losing a given issue in a haze of committee dead ends, often when this tactic doesn't conflict with the government's own real or imagined needs.

Refugee policies, sedition/security and so forth are all issues that are observed more "in the breach the breach than the observance", it seems sometimes legally sanctioned principles bow before practical or even expedient  or corrupt realities.

To me, the paradigm of the age is Dr Haneef.


 Another example of Israeli bona fides, with its naval onslaught on that aid flotilla trying to reach Gaza.

 Ten, twenty or more, dead!

 What possible harm could these people have done Israel?

 That country is one sick unit

There have been us though

David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

Another one gone

Well Marilyn it looks as though  Paul McGeough has bitten off more than he can chew this time.

This sort of thing will happen if you are friends with Hamas and Turkish terrorists.

Deported many they didn't like

Even little kids were thrown onto planes and deported in the dead of night to the wrong countries.

The whole nub of the thing

The whole nub of the thing is unpacked in the following paragraph.

He appealed to the  federal  court in 2005, but it ruled national security considerations overruled any notion of procedural fairness or natural justice.

 So, the notion of natural justice, eg pure justice, is subordinate to "national security"- as  nebulous a catch all ever perpetrated. I would have thought that an "all of government approach" that sacrifices natural justice is itself a graver threat to "national security" , with its undermining of that very plank, justice, that must be present to under write the consent necessary for the existence of the properly constituted, democratic state. 

 And the legal principle states that a defendant or appellant is entitled to know and challenge information held against them, before a court.

Otherwise, what you get is something approximating to Kafka's "Trial"or Stalinist Russia,  where you could be dragged of the streets and dealt with without ever knowing what it is you are supposed to have done to offend. This is rule by fiat, not democracy.

Patently, because Leghai has been refused access to  the details of what ever it is that bothers the authorities. Laghaei has simply "received a letter accusing him of being a national security risk and he has no basis on which to assess that clalim" (against him).  

Surely this is a monstrous perversion of justice, hence and surely illegal by any honest assessment .  Surely an honest federal court would have demanded that natural justice precedes national security (whatever that is)?

Now who ever heard of a legal instrument that refused evidence or refused the defendant the right to know the basis of allegations against him or her?

This is Star Chamber justice from the Dark Ages. 

It is offensive that the Rudd government has consciously maintained these sorts of laws in the wake of the Dr Haneef debacle, an absolute demonstration if ever one had been needed of what's wrong with this approach to law and justice. You cannot have a just state when that state stultifies the courts to impose its own unexamined and unexaminable prejudices, regardless of the facts and the prevention of openness and examination that reveals the truth.

Today, Parkin, Haneef, Lagahei.

Tomorrow, one of us....

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