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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 June 2006, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Australia reveals migrant mix-up
Villawood detention centre, Sydney
Australia automatically detains suspected illegal immigrants
The Australian authorities wrongfully locked away 26 of their own citizens as illegal immigrants over the past decade, the government has revealed.

Two hundred foreigners were also wrongfully detained by the immigration department in the same period and the cases are now being investigated.

The figure of 26 adds to at least two mix-ups previously acknowledged.

Refugee advocates have demanded that the entire immigration department be fully investigated.

In a written statement to parliament, the government said it had paid more than 800,000 Australian dollars (US $600,000) in compensation since 1995.

Australia automatically detains most asylum-seekers while their claims are assessed, the BBC's Phil Mercer reports.

Canberra has insisted that this tough approach has been a powerful deterrent and has made many illegal immigrants think twice about heading to Australia, our correspondent notes.

Three previous cases are being reported, two of which refer to named individuals:

  • German-born Cornelia Rau spent almost a year in detention and is seeking millions of dollars in damages

  • Vivian Alvarez Solon, wrongfully deported to the Philippines in 2001, spent four years living in a hospice near Manila before she was found and is also seeking substantial compensation

  • A third case involves a man known only as "Mr T"

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