Fijian amidst identity challenge

Australian Associated Press – 

A man detained in a West Australia Immigration Detention Centre, who had earlier claimed that he was an Indigenous Australian, has turned out to be a Fijian national, Immigration Department of Australia has confirmed.

Replace Eddie David, who is being held at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre, initially claimed to be Indigenous Australian. But the Immigration Department has since confirmed he is actually a Fijian national.

Fingerprint analysis

A spokesperson for the Department told Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) that they used fingerprint analysis and facial recognition comparisons to confirm Mr David’s nationality.

“The Department detained a Fijian national claiming to be an Australian citizen, following a thorough investigation by which the Department was fully satisfied that he is an unlawful non-citizen. As part of the investigation, the Department used fingerprint analysis and facial recognition comparisons.”

The department added that they had contacted the Local Aboriginal Council, but they could not confirm Mr David’s claims.

“People who have exhausted all outstanding avenues to remain in Australia and have no lawful basis to remain are expected to depart,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier, the lawyer for Mr David had called for his client’s immediate release.

Origin confusion

George Newhouse claimed that his client was born on Murray Island in the Torres Strait and is an Australian citizen.

He says 39-year-old Mr David has been detained at the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre since June 5 after attending Centrelink where he was confused with an Indian man.

“I have been told that it is not the first time,” Mr Newhouse told AAP.

“You have a vulnerable indigenous Australian man seeking support from the government and finds himself being arrested. I am extremely concerned. It is a scandalous situation. It is hard to believe this could occur in Australia in the 21st century.”

Thorough probe

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said that it has undertaken a thorough investigation and is fully satisfied that Mr David is an unlawful non-citizen.

The Refugee Rights Action Network says the department did not contact any of the missions he claims to have lived in.

Mr Newhouse has acted in other high profile cases, including the unlawful deportation of Australian woman of Vivian Solon in 2001 and the unlawful detention of permanent resident Cornelia Rau over 2004 and 2005.

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