“Someone may have been wrongfully held
in immigration detention for seven years – almost ten times as long as
Cornelia Rau – an investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman has
revealed,” Lee Glendenning writes in The Sydney Morning Heraldtoday.

“Another
detainee was held for up to six years, another between three and four
years, and further twelve held for up to three years, according to the
report.”

“The Immigration Department would not reveal how many
of the 220 cases being investigated involved Australians. In all, the
cases add up to 75 years of detention, although further investigations
may reveal some of the detainees were held lawfully.”

But wait –
there’s more: “There will be eight separate categories of cases
investigated by the Ombudsman, John McMillan. The first will involve 11
cases of mental health where there may have been problems in
identification or clarifying status.

“There are also another 50
cases where there appears to be problems with Immigration records.
These may be incorrect and will be examined as a priority.

“Further
matters involve seven cases of detained children who may have become
citizens on their 10th birthdays, and 37 cases where people may have
been released following a court case which set a precedent.

“There
are 51 cases of potential problems with the detention process – either
through legislation not being applied properly or problems ascertaining
status…”

It fills you with confidence about the preventative detention measures in the proposed terror bills. The Herald also reports
today that “the Prime Minister will send his senior legal advisers to
meet the states to address growing constitutional concerns about the
proposed terrorism laws raised by at least three premiers. Queensland’s
Premier, Peter Beattie, requested the meeting after his
Solicitor-General, Walter Sofronoff, QC, raised serious questions about
whether the High Court would strike down elements of the laws on
preventive detention and control orders as unconstitutional.”

Phew! The thought of flat foot feds exercising these sorts of powers doesn’t exactly fill one with optimism.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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