Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has defended the ASIO security clearance process, following the death of a Tamil refugee in the Villawood Detention Centre overnight.

Mr Bowen rejects claims that the immigration detention system may have contributed to the man’s death.

Elly Bradfield reports.


Paramedics tried to revive the Sri Lankan man, who’s known as “SHOOTY” but it was too late.

The man had been in the Villawood centre for more than 18 months and was declared a refugee two months ago, but he hadn’t received security clearance, prompting criticism of the detention system.

Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition: “Detention is a toxic system. You’ve got many people in Scherger that are in the same circumstances as Shooty – that, you know, Tamils that have been accepted as refugees are waiting for security clearances.”

But the Federal government has defended its detention and security clearance policy.

Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister: “Well there was consultation with the relevant security agency, in this case ASIO, and the advice was that it was not appropriate in this case.”

The Green’s Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says this case is further proof that the Government’s detention policy is flawed and is not just costing money but also lives.

There’ll be a police investigation and coronial inquiry into the man’s death.

Elly Bradfield, QUT News.