Australian minister "acted unlawfully" in immigration case: judge

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-24 17:43:38|Editor: huaxia

CANBERRA, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- A Federal Court judge has found that Australia's Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge acted criminally when he left an Afghan man in immigration detention after he was granted a visa.

Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Flick declared that Alan Tudge had "intentionally and without lawful authority been responsible for depriving a person of his liberty," according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.

He said Tudge's "conduct exposes him to both civil and potentially criminal sanctions, not limited to a proceeding for contempt."

"The minister has acted unlawfully," Flick said.

Flick's scathing comments related to the case of an Afghan man known only as PDWL who arrived in Australia in 2012 and applied for a protection visa in 2016, citing concerns that he could be targeted by the Taliban over links to the Afghan National Army, according to the ABC report.

His application was rejected in December 2019 on the basis that he had previously been convicted of assault.

However, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) overturned the decision on March 11, 2020, and ordered the man be granted a visa.

Tudge immediately appealed the decision in the Federal Court, leaving PDWL in detention in western Australia for another five days. And the court ruled that he remained in detention "because the minister did not like the Tribunal's decision."

Flick in his judgment found that the AAT had made an "error of law" in granting PDWL a visa but said that it should be granted on account of Tudge's poor treatment of the man.

"The minister cannot place himself above the law," he said.

"In the absence of explanation, the minister has engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal."

In response, a spokesperson for Tudge said the minister "strongly rejects any suggestion of improper conduct." Enditem