From the AAT: Aboubakar Kabamba and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs (Citizenship) [2024] AATA 89 (31 January 2024)

Mr. Kabamba, a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo, arrived in Australia on January 26, 2010, and is now a permanent resident. However, his application for Australian citizenship, submitted on December 17, 2020, was declined by a Ministerial delegate on August 12, 2022. The refusal primarily stemmed from doubts regarding Mr. Kabamba’s good character, largely influenced by his criminal record, notably his latest conviction on November 23, 2021, for possessing a controlled weapon.

To contest this decision, Mr. Kabamba appeared before the Tribunal on January 17, 2024, where oral evidence was also heard from his brother and sister-in-law.

The legislative framework governing Mr. Kabamba’s application for citizenship by conferral is outlined in section 21 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). The Act stipulates that for Mr. Kabamba to be eligible, he must meet the requirements specified in section 21(2), including demonstrating good character at the time of the Minister’s decision on the application. The Tribunal is tasked with assessing Mr. Kabamba’s character, being ‘satisfied’ of its quality.

Assessing one’s character involves evaluating enduring moral qualities rather than community standing or reputation.

The Minister highlighted Mr. Kabamba’s criminal history and interactions with law enforcement as evidence of his lack of good character.

Mr. Kabamba’s most recent conviction on December 10, 2021, was for possessing a controlled weapon, involving an altercation where he brandished a machete threateningly towards individuals outside his residence.

Additionally, Mr. Kabamba has a history of driving offenses, including driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving without a license, and other disorderly conduct and breach of police orders.

Despite character references vouching for Mr. Kabamba’s positive attributes and recent changes observed by his family, the Tribunal was not persuaded that Mr. Kabamba met the requirements for good character as per section 21(2)(h) of the Act.

The Tribunal concluded that Mr. Kabamba’s recent convictions and aggressive behavior, coupled with repeated driving offenses, did not demonstrate good character. Thus, the decision to refuse his citizenship application was upheld.

However, the Tribunal indicated that if Mr. Kabamba refrains from offending and continues to contribute positively to the community, he may be deemed to have good character in the future and can reapply for citizenship.

Mr. Kabamba was advised to seek legal counsel regarding his current visa status and travel plans, considering his mother’s illness in Congo.

In conclusion, the decision to deny Mr. Kabamba’s citizenship application was affirmed by the Tribunal.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

16 Feb, 2024

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