(Greens-Media) High court rulings show detention regime is wrong

Submitted by Editor on Fri, 06/08/2004 - 23:04

Two High Court rulings today provided more evidence of why Australia's immigration detention regime is inhumane and should be overhauled, Greens Senator Bob Brown said.

Willis, Katrina (Sen B. Brown)
August 6, 2004


Friday, 6 August 2004

"The court, in a majority ruling, upheld the lawfulness of indefinite immigration detention for asylum seekers who cannot find a country to provide refuge," Senator Brown said.

"In a second case, the majority of judges said that harsh conditions of detention were no defence to a charge of escaping from immigration detention."

The first case involved two detainees, from Palestine and Iraq, whose asylum claims were rejected and who wanted to leave Australia but who could not find a country to take them. The court said it was lawful to keep them in detention until they could be deported.

The second case involved an Iranian man who escaped from Woomera detention centre and sought to argue that inhumane conditions of detention were a defence but the court rejected this.

In a dissenting judgement, Justice Michael Kirby said it was not unrealistic to assume that the man had no effective remedies to 'repair serious affronts to his human rights and dignity', and he should be allowed to pursue his case in defence of his escape.

"Both these cases add further weight to the overwhelming evidence that Australia's immigration detention regime needs to be overhauled," Senator Brown said.

"Current policy and practice offends our international obligations - to ensure that detention is used as a last resort, is not a form of punishment, nor designed to deter other asylum seekers. It also offends basic human decency.

"The Greens will campaign in the federal election for a compassionate immigration policy which includes an end to mandatory detention."

More information: Katrina Willis 02 6277 3170 or 0419 704 095

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