Ten More People With Mental Illness Join List Of Improper Immigration
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 8, 2006
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--An Australian government watchdog has found 10 more cases of people with mental illness who were wrongly held by immigration officials between 2000 and 2005, bringing the total to at least 70.
Commonwealth Ombudsman John McMillan revealed Wednesday that most of this group the Immigration Department (DIMA) detained improperly were, in fact, Australian citizens, while others were permanent residents, or temporary visa holders, according to the West Australian news service.
Among them was a man from East Timor, identified only as "Mr. G.", who had come to Australia legally in 1975. Mr. G, who later developed schizophrenia, was picked up by immigration officials in 2002 and held in detention for 43 days -- even though he had a valid visa.
McMillan was called in to review nearly 250 cases of suspected wrongful detention following revelations that officials wrongfully held Cornelia Rau, an Australian citizen who had schizophrenia, for ten months beginning in March 2004.
Rau had walked away from a psychiatric ward in Sydney and was picked up by Aborigines in northern Queensland, over a thousand miles away. Police found no identification on Rau, who gave them a number of false names and answered them only in German.
Immigration officials, believing her to be an illegal immigrant, transferred Rau to Baxter Detention Center to be housed with 255 other inmates. At one point during her stay she was held in seclusion for two months -- against advice of mental health experts there.
The government is expected to pay millions of dollars in compensation to those who were wrongfully detained.
"Wrongful detention sparks compo claims" (The West Australian)
"Officer happy detainee was 'not smart'" (Sydney Morning Herald)