A stateless Rohingya man detained indefinitely has returned to the community, with dozens more asylum seekers soon to follow, the federal government has confirmed.
- The federal government has confirmed that dozens of people held in immigration detention will be released
- Rohingya man at center of High Court case released into community
- The court heard some migrants were unable to be deported due to factors beyond the government’s control.
The High Court ruled on Wednesday that the Myanmar man, who was in custody after serving a prison sentence for child sex offences, had been unlawfully detained.
He has since been released as ordered by the High Court.
In a statement, Immigration Minister Andrew Giles confirmed that other “relevant persons” would be released and that any visas granted would be subject to “appropriate conditions”.
“We are carefully considering the implications of the judgment and will continue to work with the authorities to ensure the safety of the community continues,” Mr Giles said.
Ninety-two other asylum seekers are currently detained in similar circumstances, many of them detained on grounds of morality or national security.
The High Court heard on Wednesday that most of them also could not be sent home for fear of persecution and that in nine cases they were stateless.
In at least five cases, including that of the Rohingya man, the court ruled that the situation was “intractable” and that they could not be removed due to factors beyond the government’s control.
The decision surprised some observers because it overturned a 20-year precedent allowing the continued detention of non-citizens without visas, provided the government declared its intention to deport them as soon as “reasonably practicable.”
The federal opposition says the government must now explore all legal options to protect communities, such as subjecting them to strict restrictions and controls, or considering maintaining detention orders if they pose a continued risk to the community.
Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed the High Court’s ruling, saying Australia could finally begin to align its immigration detention program with international law.
“UNHCR has expressed serious concerns over recent decades about arbitrary and indefinite detention in Australia. Just this week, we visited detention centers and observed the disastrous effects that detention can have on refugees and stateless people, some of whom have been held for too long. 10 years,” UNHCR said.
“Regardless of whether a person has committed a crime in the past and for which they have served time, the High Court has now made clear that immigration detention should not be punitive.”