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Investigation Reveals 11 More Legal Immigrants And Residents Were Held Improperly
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 1, 2005

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA--An investigation has found that at least 13 Australian citizens or legal residents with mental illnesses have been held improperly in detention centers because immigration officials were not able to determine their identity.

The office of Commonwealth Ombudsman John McMillan reviewed 221 immigration detention cases. He told a Senate panel last Friday that he determined that in 11 of those cases, "there is at least an issue as to whether the person's detention arose from mental health worries."

All of the detainees were either Australian citizens or legal residents, The Age news service reported.

The review was prompted by the high-profile cases earlier this year of legal immigrant Cornelia Rau and Australian citizen Vivian Alvarez Solon. Rau, who has schizophrenia, was held for 10 months in an immigration detention center and a women's prison, even though she committed no crime. Alvarez Solon, who also had a mental illness, was improperly deported four years ago to the Philippines.

McMillan also said that nearly every detainee held for two years or more had experienced a mental illness, and added that community-based options might be a better choice.

"We have been concerned about that issue for . . . a number of years," he said.

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