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Investigation into wrongful deportation conti -

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Investigation into wrongful deportation continues

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

TONY JONES: Cornelia Rau, of course, isn't the only victim of the Immigration Department's
incompetence. In May, Lateline revealed the Department had deported an Australian citizen - mother
of two, Vivian Alvarez Solon - to the Philippines. She's still there, it'll be four years next
week. The inquiry is still investigating her case, but today's report reveals disturbing new
details of how Australia deported one of its own. Tom Igguldon reports.

TOM IGGULDEN: Vivian Alvarez Solon was found in May at a hospice in the northern Philippines almost
four years after she was deported.

VIVIAN SOLON, DEPORTEE: Well, I was in the car accident and he asked me if I am a citizen and I
told him I was a citizen, but my passport was not with me, there was no proof.

REPORTER: You told him you were a citizen?

VIVIAN SOLON: Yes.

TOM IGGULDEN: She was telling the truth, but as today's report confirms it wasn't enough to
convince the immigration officials who interviewed her. Instead, they came up with the assumption
she had been illegally brought into the country as a sex slave.

INQUIRY REPORT: "At present, there is no indication that she ever made this claim. It seems to be
an assumption on the part of the [immigration] officer."

TOM IGGULDON: The unnamed officer in charge of her case made little attempt to establish she was
telling the truth about being Australian.

INQUIRY REPORT: "The capacity existed in 2001 for [immigration] officers to have identified Vivian
Alvarez as an Australian citizen."

TOM IGGULDON: But tragically, for the mother of two, the report says officers simply didn't try
hard enough to find out.

INQUIRY REPORT: "The officer should have known [she was Australian] and that any thorough and
objective inquiry would have established this fact."

TOM IGGULDON: The very day before she was deported, Queensland Police asked the Immigration
Department to search their files to help locate a missing person.

INQUIRY REPORT: "Any info on this person would be appreciated. Missing person Vivian Solon."

TOM IGGULDON: That same day the reply came back from immigration indicating Vivian Alvarez Solon
was an Australian citizen and gave her date of birth. Meanwhile, on the same day, the Department's
compliance officers had called in a doctor to pronounce her fit to be deported. Local Filipinos,
sent by the Philippines Consulate, found her being held by the officers at this motel.

GUING COOP, SOCIAL WORKER: I said, "Surely she did not come here on a broomstick?" All they could
say is that they couldn't find any records of her. But to me, there was something wrong. Because if
there's no records, what would be the grounds then for deportation.

TOM IGGULDEN: There appears to be an unexploded bomb in today's report. Until now, we'd understood
that an unnamed Immigration Department official discovered in 2003 that an Australian citizen had
been wrongly deported. But today's report indicates that someone in the Department, perhaps more
than one person, made the discovery three days after Vivian Solon was thrown out of the country.
Remember that she was deported on July 20, 2001. Today's report notes that a recent departmental
audit shows the computer records which prove Vivian Solon to be an Australian citizen: "Were
accessed twice, on July 23, 2001 [three days after Miss Alvarez was removed] and once on August 27,
2001." It doesn't say who in the Department had access to those critical files, but it raises the
question as to whether a cover-up of their horrific mistake began within days of her deportation.
Tom Iggulden, Lateline.