Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Australian courts have had enough of refugee detention

For the past decade, Australia has had a racist, anti-refugee policy. Those claiming refugee status are imprisoned without trial and left to rot in the hope they would "voluntarily" return to be tortured and murdered. When the courts have granted them visas, the government has immediately revoked them on racial "character" grounds, so they never leave detention. Now, the Australian courts have finally had enough of this bullshit:

A Syrian man who has spent the last six years locked up in Australian detention centres after his visa was revoked is free after a landmark legal ruling.

Lawyers for the man, who has lived in Australia since he was 13, successfully argued that he was being held unlawfully because nothing had happened on his case for a year, and no attempt had been made to return him to his war-ravaged homeland.

His solicitor Alison Battison said it was the first time in Australian legal history that someone has been freed from detention under the ancient writ of habeas corpus, which puts the onus on the state to prove a valid reason for imprisoning someone.

As in New Zealand, the courts have ruled that the purpose of detention is to enable a decision or deportation. If there is no decision or deportation process, then the detention serves no purpose and is illegal. The twist in this case is that, because the Australia government has refused to even consider granting a visa, the courts have said that it doesn't matter: the man is free, they can't detain him for immigration purposes, and if they try and arrest him for being unlawfully in the country then that will be contempt of court. The next step is of course a civil claim for damages for false imprisonment, as well as multiple cases applying the same logic to every other long-term immigration detainee.

How will the Australian government respond? Based on their past behaviour, probably with more tyranny. But removing habeas corpus rights is a big step, even for a racist tyrant like Peter Dutton. And hopefully the Australian Senate will refuse to go along with any such attempt.