Australia visa for longest-held refugee

Australia's longest-held immigration detainee has been granted a visa after seven years in confinement, the government says.

    Rights groups have condemned Australia's detention camps

    Peter Qasim remained in a hospital on Sunday where he has

    been treated for depression but Immigration Minister Amanda

    Vanstone said he was free to leave. 

    "He will probably stay there until his particular doctors

    are working, which will be on Monday, and he'll make a decision

    with them what he does. But the plain facts are, at law he's

    entitled to walk out," Vanstone said. 

    Qasim's long detention has cast a spotlight on

    Australia's tough immigration policy, where illegal arrivals

    are detained in tightly policed camps condemned by

    international human rights group. 

    Qasim says he is an Indian national from the disputed

    Himalayan territory of Kashmir but Australia has been unable to

    verify his identity and India has refused to accept him back. 

    Vanstone said a month ago that Qasim would be one of 50

    asylum-seekers detained for two years or more who would be

    offered visas allowing them to live outside of detention

    centres until their cases could be successfully finalised. 

    Vanstone said Qasim's visa had been finalised on Saturday.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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