Thursday, November 24, 2005

Serbia deportee fights Australia

BBC World News
Picture ABC TV:Mr Jovicic started his protests two days ago.

A man deported by Australia to a country he had never before set foot in has vowed he will campaign until he is allowed to return "home".
Robert Jovicic, 38, who had lived in Australia since he was two, has been camping on the steps of the Australian embassy in Serbia's capital, Belgrade.

Mr Jovicic was born in France to Serbian parents.

He was deported to Serbia in 2004, when his permanent residency was revoked after a jail term for drug crimes.

Belgrade has not recognised Mr Jovicic - who had never been to Serbia before his deportation - as a citizen, leaving him stateless with no right to work or welfare.

If I'm considered Australian trash that I will rot on Australia soil

Robert Jovicic

His plight is the latest immigration row to hit the government in Canberra which has faced growing criticism from human rights groups for its tough immigration policies.

The Australian authorities have recently been under fire for mistakenly deporting one of its own citizens to the Philippines and locking up a German-born Australian national in an Outback detention centre.

But the government has shown some sign of modifying its approach.

Earlier this year, the government ended its policy of detaining children suspected of being illegal immigrants.

'I'll die'

Mr Jovicic began the protests in Belgrade two days ago.

"I've explained to the embassy if I'm considered Australian trash, that I will rot on Australia soil," he told Australia's ABC television.

"If I don't... get back home, I'll die".

Mr Jovicic was sent to Serbia on "character grounds", following his conviction for a series of drug-related burglaries.

His brother and sister, who live in Australia, are demanding his immediate return to Melbourne.

"You can't just throw someone who's been here all their lives and calls this place his home, and just dump them somewhere else," Susanna Jovicic told ABC.

Australia's department of foreign affairs official said that Mr Jovicic had been given temporary accommodation and the embassy has arranged for a medical examination.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said in a statement that she had asked her department for a detailed report on Mr Jovicic's case.

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