Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
News reports state that in mainland Australia, a number of asylum seekers have lodged court appeals following the unintended disclosure/publication of almost 10,000 asylum seekers’ personal details. The disclosure was through the accidental publication of personal details on the Immigration Department’s website. Their appeal is that now further to the publication of this information they are entitled to automatic protection, since the disclosure of such detailed personal information makes them liable to persecution by the government/administration in their native countries.
News reports had earlier revealed and stated that personal information of each detainee such as name, date of birth, country of origin, arrival date and location in a detention facility in the mainland was published by chance (or, by mistake/accident) on the Immigration Department’s website. It has further been revealed that some the authorities at one of the detention centers are trying to threaten those asylum seekers who have said they will pursue and press for their rights, and are asking those detainees who are vulnerable, to waive their privacy rights.
According to Dr John Sweeney, research head, at the Edmund Rice Centre, and one of the action groups voluntarily taking up the cause of the detainees, the detainees were being actively coerced to sign forms which will absolve the department in case of any harm inflicted upon them, if they were returned, as a result of the data breach. Dr. Sweeney commenting about the incident and episode stated that the above was like being asked to surrender a very basic and ‘fundamental human right’, which in itself is an illegal act. This is so, as these fundamental rights are part and parcel of any individual’s rights and are granted and guaranteed to every human being and cannot be taken from any individual, for whatever reason.
Now that a number of activist groups, concerned individuals, legal experts have joined this fight on behalf of those affected, one cannot say how exactly the future events will unfold.