Australian PM apologises for deportation of Australian

Friday, May 6, 2005

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has made a qualified apology to an Australian citizen who was deported to the Philippines in 2001. The woman, who was born in the Philippines, is yet to be located.

"I am very sorry if anything unfair has happened in relation to that and on the face of it that does appear to be the case," Mr Howard said.

The woman had come into contact with New South Wales police after a car accident. Speaking but little English, she was then sent to the Philippines consulate in Brisbane, Queensland. She was then deported by immigration officials, in 2001. In 2003 they became aware that she was listed in Queensland as a missing person.

A marriage to an Australian man had broken down, and the lady was believed to be suffering from a mental illness. According to the National Survey of Mental Health and Well Being (1997), one in five Australian adults meet at least one criteria for mental disorder.

Parallels have been drawn between this incident and the case of Cornelia Rau, an Australian citizen who spent 10 months in immigration detention, including 3 months in solitary confinement at Baxter Detention Centre, before her identity was revealed.

The Department of Immigration Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), responsible for both cases, has left unanswered a question raised in Parliament in February, concerning the number who had been wrongfully detained within its system of mandatory detention. The answer was due on April 8, according to Greens Senator Kerry Nettle.

DIMIA indicated in February last year, that over the previous year (2003—2004), 33 people who were lawfully in Australia, had been detained and then released.

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  • The following resource is a proof copy, the finalised version should be made available shortly. The url may need to be replaced by the time you read this. Look here to check for the final version.
See in particular pages 59-60 and 79 of the document (or simply search for 'wrongful' and '121 days').
Commonwealth of Australia. "Proof Committee Hansard: Senate - Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee Estimates (Additional Estimates)" — Commonwealth of Australia, February 15, 2005