Ranjini's case 'very unusual', says review judge

Ranjini's case 'very unusual', says review judge

A Tamil refugee's time as an 11-year-old runaway who joined Sri Lanka's civil war was ''surprising and, presumably, very unusual'', according to a review of the ASIO decision to deem her a threat to Australia's national security.

But Ranjini's early indoctrination into the Tamil Tigers and her later disavowal of the cause after fleeing to Australia - insisting she just wanted to raise her three children - was not enough to overturn the ASIO finding. The retired judge charged with reviewing the case found Ranjini had displayed ''genuine commitment'' by willingly staying with the Tigers for 17 years until 2008, even if it was ''not possible to say exactly when her childish determination flowered into real commitment''.



A former federal court justice, Margaret Stone, also dismissed as a ''fallacy'' arguments from Ranjini's lawyers that the Tigers' crushing military defeat in 2009 meant any future threat had been extinguished.

A copy of the Stone review has been lodged with documents in the High Court in a challenge to Ranjini's indefinite detention.

According to the report, Ranjini was asked questions ''designed to test her commitment to the aims and methods'' of the Tigers, with the answers - some of which have been blanked out for national security reasons - found to support the ASIO conclusion that she was strongly devoted to the cause. Ranjini had described the feared Tigers leader, Prabhakaran, as ''kind''


Ms Stone also rejected calls to consider the effect of detention on Ranjini's mental health, saying the outcome of the security assessment was a ''political question''. Ranjini is held immigration detention in Sydney with her children, and is not permitted a visa to live in the community, despite having never been charged with a crime in Australia.

Documents presented to the High Court last week state she is never allowed to be alone with her husband, a permanent resident she met in Australia.

Ranjini lives within a fenced-off village where the door to her house is set with a silent alarm every evening.

At least one country has already rejected Australian government requests to offer Ranjini a home. Her two older children, who fled Sri Lanka with her, have been granted permanent residence, and her third son, born in January in detention, is an Australian citizen.

Lawyers argued there was no reasonable prospect of her being deported, and have asked the court to rule that her indefinite detention is unlawful.

The case could have profound consequences for 47 mostly Tamil refugees branded a threat by ASIO and held in detention.

The secret security assessment cannot be appealed, and the Coalition has already flagged that an independent review of the ASIO findings would be abandoned.

Daniel Flitton

Daniel Flitton is senior correspondent for The Age covering foreign affairs and politics. He is a former intelligence analyst for the Australian government and was at one-time a university lecturer specialising in international relations.

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