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Aus rights body terms Indian student detention arbitrary

October 24, 2011 17:32 IST
An Indian student, who was detained in 2004 by Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship for violating visa rules, is likely to get a compensation of $ 6,00,000 (Rs 3.1 crore) after the country's human rights body termed his detention as 'arbitrary'.

Prashant Cherkupalli was detained in late 2004 for working at a bakery in Western Sydney without the correct visa. Cherkupalli, a student of Masters degree in Engineering, had spent nearly 18 months in south-western Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre before he was released in April 2006. Since then he has been living on bridging visas there. He had lodged a case with the Australian Human Rights

Commission, which released its findings earlier this month.

Cherkupalli's lawyer Tom Mithieux said that his detention was found by the Human Rights Commission to be an arbitrary detention and breached the Migration Act. The commission subsequently made recommendations in relation to compensation and also on an apology among others.

"The commission also found Cherkupalli should be paid nearly $ 600,000 in compensation. It takes into account general damages, which is generally looking at the hurt and humiliation I suppose of being arbitrarily detained for that period of time. There is also some scope for past economic loss," Mithieux said.

"I came to Australia to get a job and get a permit and to settle down, but things have gone wrong for me and I ended up in detention, where I should not end up," Cherkupalli was quoted as saying by ABC report on Monday.

"It's not easy, counting every day to get out from there and back on the studies and back on the job," he said.

The commission's recommendations, however, are not binding on the Federal Government and Cherkupalli still faces deportation. Mithieux said Cherkupalli should instead be granted permanent residency by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

"There have been requests for ministerial intervention in the past. They have been rejected," he said. "However in light of these findings the minister has again been called to intervene and to put Cherkupalli in a position that he would have been but for this period of detention, which really means giving him permanent residency."

The immigration department says it will respond to the commission's report by the end of the week. Cherkupalli's lawyers have also lodged a claim for unlawful imprisonment in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

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