October 27, 2014 | ABC News
Refugee advocates are calling for a moratorium on the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan as the Australian Government prepares to forcibly return a 20-year-old Hazara man to Kabul.
The first man to be returned involuntarily to Afghanistan, Zainullah Naseri, has claimed he was abducted and tortured by the Taliban when he tried to make his way to his home district outside Kabul last month.
A video of an Afghan police interrogation obtained by Lateline showed police firing shots as Mr Naseri walked towards them. The police officers told the ABC they feared he was an insurgent trying to attack their post.
Covered in dirt with a ripped shirt, Mr Naseri was led inside the police post, where he told the officer he had just escaped from the Taliban who captured him as he tried to return to his home province from the capital, Kabul.
The police later released Mr Naseri and he returned to Kabul, where he is staying in a guesthouse.
“I don’t have anything really,” he told Lateline.
“My money is almost finished and I’ll have no other choice but to sleep outside under the bridge.”
Man could suffer persecution from Taliban
The 20-year-old man who is due to be deported tomorrow arrived in Australia in May 2012 and claims to be from the same district as Mr Naseri.
In April 2013 the Refugee Review Tribunal found there was a real chance the applicant could suffer persecution at the hands of the Taliban if he return to his home district, but not if he stayed in Kabul, where he has an uncle.
The tribunal rejected the man’s claim that before fleeing to Australia he was working as a truck driver and was attacked several times by the Taliban.
The ABC has seen a copy of the deportation letter, which stated that the man will be returned to Kabul on October 28.
The letter stated the man must pay $25,000 to the Australian Government to cover the cost of his deportation.
Refugee groups have said eight other Hazara men have been re-detained in Australia and could soon be deported.
“If we are really interested in the sanctity and protection of human lives, then we shouldn’t be taking a risk with these peoples lives,” Phil Glendenning from the Refugee Council of Australia said.
“There needs to be a moratorium on these deportations.”
‘Any kidnapping was opportunistic’
In Kabul, Mr Naseri told Lateline he was on medication to treat depression and was too scared to make another attempt to reach his home district.
He said he believed his life was in more danger now than ever before.
“The Taliban took all my documents,” he said.
“They may even print my photos and place them everywhere and they might try to capture me again. Even in Kabul I feel paranoid when others see me, including the police.”
Mr Naseri said he was called to the Australian Embassy in Kabul several weeks ago to give a statement about his abduction claim.
In a written statement to the ABC, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison said his enquiries into Mr Naseri’s claims were ongoing.
Mr Morrison said at this stage reports suggested “that any kidnapping was opportunistic and is not therefore related to a fear of persecution that would have otherwise given rise to a protection obligation”.
The statement said Australia does not return people to their country of origin where “this would contravene our obligations under international human rights instruments that Australia is party to, including the Refugee Convention”.