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June 8, 2012

NOT GUILTY VERDICTS IN DARWIN: ANOTHER REASON TO INVESTIGATE THE FEDERAL POLICE AND SERCO

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The Refugee Action Coalition is demanding an inquiry into the Federal Police’s role in the investigation of the assault and subsequent charging of two Burmese refugees, Habib and Basir, after a Darwin roof-top protest in August last year.

The two refugees were bashed in their room following the protest and taken to the punishment compound at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC).

“We are calling for the Serco guards who bashed the refugees to be charged with assault. There won’t be justice until those guards are charged and taken before a court,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Both Burmese refugees were found not guilty today, in Darwin Magistrates Court, of throwing rocks at Serco guards. One of the refugees, Habib, was found guilty of an assault charge but Basir was acquitted of the assault charge against him – the Magistrate saying he could not rule out self-defence.

The verdicts have thrown a huge question mark over the role of the Federal Police in investigating complaints regarding Serco abuses in detention centres.

“Not for the first time there appears to be collusion between the Federal Police and Serco to both ignore complaints made by asylum seekers and to pursue pointless and vindictive charges against asylum seekers in detention. Serco knows they can make complaints against and get the Federal Police to lay charges knowing that the person charged will be in face more months and years in detention. It is criminal.

“These charges were vindictive measures against two refugees that Serco regarded as trouble-makers. Both the men were beaten by Serco guards in August 2011 but their complaints were never investigated. In May 2012, Federal agent Monica Semrad admitted she had taken photographs of injuries suffered by the two men but had not bothered to investigate the Serco guards who had bashed them.

“Both the refugees were found to be refugees in May 2010. Both were given ASIO clearances in November 2011, but they were not released. They should not even have been in detention in August.

“The bias is obvious. Serco and the Federal Police are presiding over an extra-judicial punishment of asylum seekers and refugees. Federal Police refused to respond to calls to Villawood in April when Serco guards assaulted a Tamil refugee.

“In another case, an Iranian man charged for slapping Serco guards in April 2011 in an incident in Leonora detention centre will not see court until August 2012. That’s sixteen months for a charge that would never attract a custodial sentence. He should never have been charged. Yet, the family is now in Villawood, denied bridging visas or community detention because of these minor charges.”

“Serco recently used the threats of such prosecutions to warn asylum seekers not to be involved in protests at Darwin’s Northern Immigration Detention centre. Serco is behaving as the judge, jury and executioner – and the Federal Police are helping them – this is not a justice system; it is an injustice system.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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