Border Force search and seize laws will dangerously increase security staff powers

14th May 2020

The powers of Australian Border Force staff will be significantly increased if proposed laws introduced today by Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge are passed, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“The new laws will enable Border Force staff to use their discretion to remove mobile phones and electronic devices from individuals in immigration detention. This is a dangerous overreach of authority and greatly increases the power of Border Force employees,” said Mr Greg Barns, spokesperson, ALA.

“Police officers have the right to search and seize possessions from people detained in immigration detention – it is not the role of the Border Force employees.

“For many asylum seekers, their mobile phones are their only private lifeline to the outside world. This is how they are able to talk to their families, friends and lawyers. It is extremely dangerous to give Border Force staff the power to remove this channel of communication.

“There is no need to introduce these extra powers right now. It seems that, again, the government is endeavouring to slip new laws through Parliament while everyone is focused on managing the COVID-19 health emergency.

“We need to remember that it is not a crime to seek asylum in Australia. Our immigration detention is already cruel and inhumane, and this government seems determined to show no compassion.”

Tags: Asylum seekers and refugees Immigration COVID-19