Monday, April 19, 2010

Death By Deportation

A depressed father with known drug and alcohol problems died from a heroin overdose two days after Australia deported him to Britain and left him at Heathrow Airport with a cash stipend of about $700 in his pocket.

43-year-old Andrew Moore had lived in Australia since he was 11 years old, but had never officially become a Australian citizen. However, the Australian government scheduled him for deportation last October for failing the Migration Act's character test after he served a sentence for manslaughter.

Moore's family in Australia (including a teenage son) and supporters had pleaded for him to be allowed to stay due to severe physical and mental illness. The family says the government failed him, and legal and immigration experts say it could have prevented his death, but the Immigration Minister and his department callously deny any responsibility.

Moore's government-appointed doctor, Ed Morgan, had documented that he was at risk of relapsing into alcohol, heroin and benzodiazepine abuse. ''He has expressed fears that in a new country with limited support he will again be likely to relapse,'' Morgan wrote. ''Having known Andrew for many years I … feel drug and alcohol support is paramount to his ongoing care.''

Moore's family expressed their ''disappointment at the failure of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to put in place sufficient support networks for Andrew on his deportation to the United Kingdom. This is particularly [grievous] given that Andrew had lived most of his life in Australia and was being deported to a country that he had no existing connection to.''

Greg Barns, a director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said a government welfare worker should have accompanied Moore in London to ensure he used the appropriate services. ''[The death] could arguably have been avoided if the Australian government had not been so determined to apply the law inflexibly,'' Barns said.

Michael Grewcock, a lecturer at the University of NSW and an expert on character-test deportations, said that, notwithstanding the coroner's finding, ''the Australian government still bears a moral responsibility for what happened. It was known Andrew Moore was seriously ill and that he had a history of substance abuse. It was entirely predictable that having been abandoned at Heathrow without any meaningful social support that he would be a risk to himself or others. He was, to all intents and purposes, Australian and his risk should have been addressed here via the parole system and the welfare services generally available to ex-prisoners".

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