Eighty asylum seekers detained by immigration were released almost immediately following last week’s High Court ruling that they were being detained illegally.
- A High Court judgment last week determined that dozens of asylum seekers were being illegally detained.
- Since then, 80 people have been released following the judgment
- Government considering legislative options but awaiting High Court reasons
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles confirmed the releases on ABC Radio National, saying the Commonwealth had opposed the outcome but had prepared for it, and that these people were now in the community with the appropriate visas.
Mr Giles said community safety was the first priority and the Australian Federal Police and Border Force were involved in the process.
The High Court ruled on Wednesday that a stateless Rohingya man in custody, who had already served a prison sentence for child sex offences, had been unlawfully detained.
The Commonwealth, in its submissions to the High Court, reported that 92 people were detained in similar circumstances, of whom more than 300 in total could be affected by the decision.
Most of those detained had failed character tests, while some were also considered to pose a risk to national security.
The 80 people who were released were given transitional visas with individual conditions, which may include requirements to report regularly.
“That’s obviously one of the bases on which we keep the community safe,” Mr Giles said.
The decision overturned a 20-year precedent that allowed asylum seekers who failed a character assessment to be held in detention indefinitely if they could not be deported because they were considered genuine refugees, were stateless or would not be accepted by their country of origin.
Mr Giles said the Government was continuing to consider all options available to it, including possible legislative changes.
“What we need to do now that we have this decision, which has changed the law that has been in place for two decades, is to implement it appropriately, doing all the short-term things…those immediate actions to ensure community safety today, while being focused on ensuring in the long term that we can keep the community safe and uphold Australian laws,” Mr Giles said.
“We must also have the opportunity to consider the reasons why the High Court made the decision last week, and we do not yet have those reasons.”