Aboriginal man sues Australian gov’t over attempted deportation

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CANBERRA, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) — An Aboriginal man has launched legal action against the Australian government over an unlawful bid to deport him.

Brendan Thoms, a New Zealand-born man with Aboriginal heritage, was suing the Australian government for 4.1 million Australian dollars (2.95 million U.S. dollars), claiming he was falsely imprisoned, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.

Thoms, who has lived in Australia from age six but never became a citizen, was held in immigration detention for more than 500 days as the government sought to deport him because his criminal history failed the migration character test.

However, in a landmark decision the High Court of Australia ruled in February that indigenous Australians are exempt from immigration laws and cannot be deported, prompting his release from detention.

Thoms, 31, said in a statement that the lawsuit was “about justice for me and my family.”

“I will never get back those 502 days I was locked up in immigration detention,” he said. “But the memories of those dark days will live with me forever.”

“I was scared I would be tapped on the shoulder in the middle of the night and put on a plane or a boat out of the country.”

Thoms challenged the move in the court along with Daniel Love, another man with indigenous heritage and criminal convictions, who the government sought to deport to Papua New Guinea (PNG). Their lawyer Claire Gibbs said the cases were “as serious as it gets in terms of infringements on human rights.”

“The next step is really holding the government in both cases accountable for their decision to unlawfully detain both of our clients, who were subject to incredible humiliation and stress while detained for a considerable period of time,” she said. Enditem

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