A Woman Seeking Refugee Status Was Turned Away For Being 15 Minutes And 27 Seconds Late

    She blamed "internet issues" for filing her application 15 minutes after midnight.

    Doucefleur / Getty Images

    A woman whose claim for protection was rejected by an Australian tribunal because she lodged her application 15 minutes and 27 seconds too late has lost a court appeal against the decision.

    The Malaysian woman, whose identity is suppressed, lodged the online application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal at 00:15:27 on August 23, 2016.

    Her original claim for a protection visa had been rejected by a delegate of the immigration minister the month before. She wanted the tribunal to reconsider the decision.

    But the 28-day limit for filing an application to review the decision ended on August 22. Because the tribunal said she was a day late, it decided it had no jurisdiction to hear her case.

    “More precisely, the application was 15 minutes and 27 seconds late,” the judge who heard her appeal wrote. The 28-day limit is in the Migration Act.

    According to the minister's delegate, the woman claimed "she spoke with the political party of the government about its problems and since then she received threats from politicians." She said if she returned she would be imprisoned or shot dead without it being reported in the media. She later told the court that she was a Catholic and that Christians were being targeted in Malaysia.

    She asked the Federal Circuit Court to overturn the tribunal’s decision to reject her case, saying she had “internet issues”. “Just minutes of time pushing my life in to danger,” she wrote in her application.

    The woman said she had been unable to get legal advice because she was living in the small Victorian town of Mooroopna, and that she couldn’t afford a lawyer.

    “The tribunal online application for review took some time also there is no help by any one, the person who helped me did not have much knowledge. That is the reason application has been delayed one day as it was lodged at midnight with some minutes late. So I thought tribunal would accept but it did not accept,” she said in her application.

    She told the court her financial hardship and a lack of advice and language skills meant it took her a long time to prepare documents for her review and to lodge the application. “I had tried my best to get the documents ready as soon as possible,” she said.

    In a judgement handed down late last month, Judge Heather Riley of the Federal Circuit Court rejected the woman’s request to review the tribunal’s decision, saying there was no legal error.

    In a previous case, a refugee applicant successfully overturned the tribunal’s decision to reject his application because the notification about the time limit was sent to him in the post, and it was difficult to work out the date he was notified of the decision.

    The Malaysian woman received her notification by email, which meant the date was “obvious”, Riley said.

    The whereabouts of the woman are unknown as she was unnamed in court and had no legal representation.

    Hannah Ryan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Hannah Ryan at hannah.ryan@buzzfeed.com.

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