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Australian judge concerned over 'over-enthusiastic' document redactions against Tamil family

The Australian Immigration Department has been accused of being over-enthusiastic in providing heavily redacted documents to the lawyers of the Eelam Tamil family fighting deportation to Sri Lanka.

During a pre-hearing on Monday before Melbourne’s federal court, lawyers defending the family, complained that they were issued with a redacted document blacking out discussion between the home affairs minister Peter Dutton and the department secretary.

Another document that was issued was “wholly blacked out” and prompted the Hon. Justice Mark Mochinsky to agree with the lawyers claims of over-enthusiasm.

It does look like there has been some over-enthusiasm for redaction,” he said.

He questioned the need to redact even the surnames of individuals from the department.

Of course if there are confidentiality issues they can be dealt with in a different way that doesn’t require redaction,” Moshinsky said. “I was having a little trouble piecing who was who together because of the surnames being redacted.”

Tharunicaa’s lawyer Angel Aleksov received the redacted documents late on Sunday night but immediately raised the issue to ensure that the redactions be removed and the details be disclosed and insisted the documents can prove “critical” in the bearing of the case.

Aleksov requested that all the documents are handed to the court on Friday with no redactions to allow issues to be contested at the hearing without the complications of redactions.

Priya, Nades Murugappan, and their Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa (aged five and three respectively), who were sent to immigration detention in Melbourne initially following an early morning raid by Australian Border Forces in March 2018, have been detained on Christmas Island awaiting their court hearing this Friday.

Despite voicing concerns of facing persecution if sent back to Sri Lanka due to the family’s past LTTE associations, Priya, Nades and Kopika have already been denied refugee status. The family’s hopes of staying in Australia rely on Tharunicaa and her right to apply for protection and refugee status, with relatives and supporters eagerly awaiting a positive outcome in the long-awaited court hearing set to take place this Friday.

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