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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Afghan to be forcibly deported from Australia

AFP
Updated November 15, 2011, 12:41 pm

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Afghan asylum seeker who fears for his life if returned home is to be forcibly deported from Australia, the first such case under a new deal with Kabul, the government said Tuesday.

Ismail Mirza Jan, 26 and of the Hazara ethnic minority, fled Afghanistan 10 years ago and made his way to Australia via Pakistan, Iran, Greece and Britain, where he was refused refugee status in 2004.

He failed to disclose his British rejection when he arrived in Australia in February 2010 on false documents, claiming he had come directly from Afghanistan, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

A fingerprint trace revealed his earlier application, leading to the ultimate failure of his Australian asylum bid.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Jan would be the first forced return under a deal struck in January with Kabul.

"Never before today has there been an involuntary return from Australia to Afghanistan so this underlines the importance of today," Bowen told reporters.

"Without today's agreement it would be impossible to contemplate involuntary repatriation to Afghanistan."

The deal allows Australia to forcibly deport Afghans whose claims for asylum have failed, and it was signed off as part of efforts to curb the thousands of refugees arriving here from the strife-torn central Asian nation.

Jan's father was killed by the Taliban and his family have fled to neighbouring Pakistan. He told ABC television he fears for his life.

"If I go there, I will be dead in my country. I have no-one there to protect me. I have no friends, no family there. So how can I live, relocate in Kabul?" said Jan, who claims he was coached not to reveal his failed British asylum claim by people smugglers.

"I told immigration it's okay, if they send me, you can send my dead body to my country because either way I'm dead."

A spokesman for Bowen declined to comment specifically on the case for privacy reasons but said only "Afghans not considered to be genuine refugees" were returned under the policy.

"People are only removed where their refugee claim has failed at multiple levels of assessment," the spokesman told AFP.

"This government is committed to a proper and robust assessment of asylum claims as a signatory to the Refugee Convention," he added.

According to the Herald, Jan will be charged Aus$32,782 (US$33,460) for his escorted deportation, which will take place on Saturday.

Australia temporarily froze all Afghan asylum claims in April 2010 after a surge in rickety asylum-seeker boats from Asia -- a move condemned by groups including UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency.

The freeze was lifted in September last year, but growing numbers of Afghans have been refused asylum after the government updated its safety assessments of the war-ravaged nation.

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN

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