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The dangers of ASIO’s arbitrary and unaccountable decisions

Grown Men Playing Boys’ Games : the dangers of ASIO’s arbitrary and unaccountable decisions

The Sydney Peace Foundation supports lawyer David Manne’s High Court challenge to the arbitrary and unaccountable decisions of ASIO staff regarding asylum seekers’ security clearance. It makes a mockery of claims about democracy that decisions can be made on the basis of information which subjects are not allowed to see and against which there is no appeal.

 The Foundation also protests politicians’ indifference regarding the detention in Villawood of the Sri Lankan refugee Ranjini and her two sons. Ranjini, her children and 46 other refugees with negative ASIO assessments are detained indefinitely with no right of appeal.

 Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation Professor Stuart Rees says, ‘The trouble is that the great God ‘Security’ enables invisible ASIO operatives to do as they please and to use the word ‘security’ to mean whatever they like. When the practices of paid spies have been exposed as in the Spy Catcher Affair in the UK  or when Australian citizens eventually obtain their files, much of ASIO’s practice is seen to be a sinister joke: the equivalent of grown men playing little’ boys’ spy games. This judgment has been confirmed by my interviews with several ex ASIO employees. ‘

 The Sydney Peace Foundation urges four things:

(i)                 The release of Ranjini and her children; a swift solution to the detention of all the other refugees locked up on account of ASIO judgments.

(ii)               Subjecting ASIO claims to legal scrutiny. If ASIO personnel were held accountable, they could reply to the criticism contained in this press release. Accountability works both ways.

(iii)             Politicians and representatives of the media need to demystify claims about ‘security’ by, for example, asking questions – journalists to ask many more questions of how ASIO and the system works.

(iv)              The Australian government should explain why any Tamil refugee is a threat. In the Sri Lankan civil war, Australia was neither partisan nor the enemy.


Media Enquiries:

Melissa McCullough

Media and Publicity | Sydney Peace Foundation

m: 0432 861 653


w: www.sydneypeacefoundation.org.au