Back in 1995 Amanda Vanstone got a little, er, boisterous at my Christmas Eve party. Ten Christmases later, she’s positively offensive.
DIMIA droogs have returned a suicidal Turkish man who has already spent two years in detention simply for overstaying a visa, despite warnings from South Australia’s Public Advocate John Harley that they and their bungling minister are putting the man’s life at risk.
But that’s nothing compared to the case of Villawood detainee and former diplomat Naqib Ahmed Noori. He’s preparing to spend his seventh Christmas behind bars.
Noori has been a controversial figure. Shortly after his arrival in Australia in 1999 from Afghanistan he was accused of war crimes and crime against humanity during the Russian occupation of that unhappy land.
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He has since been cleared of these accusations, but remains behind razor wire, separated from his Australian citizen family – a wife and three children. “DIMIA is now working out if any new reason can be found to exclude my client from Australia,” according to his legal representative, Mark Vincent.
The SMH recently highlighted Noori’s case:
The fate of accused war criminal Naqib Ahmed Noori hinged on whether he had date-coloured hair and blue-green eyes.
While waiting for a decision on his future, the former Afghan diplomat spent six years locked in Villawood Detention Centre and became the longest-serving immigration detainee in Sydney.
Now, after a legal battle that his solicitor, Mark Vincent, estimates has cost the Federal Government more than $1 million, a court has decided that it was a case of mistaken identity.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found Noori, 47, was not a torturer of civilians as a senior officer in Afghanistan’s Khad, the communist secret police.
“The evidence does not … establish that he was anything other than a conscripted soldier in a security battalion,” the tribunal’s deputy president, Professor Geoffrey Walker, said in a decision on October 14.
When Mr Noori presented his red diplomat’s passport at Sydney Airport in September 1999 and asked for political asylum as a refugee from the Taliban, he was hustled straight to Villawood. Despite the win in court, he is still detained there.
The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, has not appealed against this decision but refused to tell the Herald whether Mr Noori will be freed and what is holding up his release…
The minister alleged that, among other atrocities he committed, for four months from late 1986 to early 1987, Noori regularly tortured and ill-treated prisoners during his 18 months in charge of the Khad secret police in his home town of Kunduz…
Professor Walker found in his favour although he said Mr Noori’s evidence was “as a whole unconvincing.” Mr Noori had played down his role in the communist party, its bloody internal disputes, and the interest the KGB had in Moscow-trained students such as himself, the professor said…
He claimed ignorance about the Khad but it was “an implausible proposition” that he was just an ordinary soldier who knew little about it.
The professor described him as “a prominent, trained communist party apparatchik and Soviet collaborator” and said he well knew the regime “had committed and was committing atrocities of genocidal proportions against his own people.”
But as grounds to refuse a visa: “It’s not enough that an applicant for refugee status has been a willing collaborator with a regime that has committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
Noori’s lawyers had to fight to gain access to evidence against him. During the appeal in the AAT, Noori and his legal team were excluded while the tribunal took in camera evidence.
Vincent has described the thinness of the evidence used by the Government to deny Noori a visa as “disgraceful.” He describes DIMIA mechanisms for dealing with alleged war criminals as “appallingly bad.”
Just like the rest of the department – and its minister.