Proposed response to High Court decision imposes harsh conditions on refugees

16th Nov 2023

Proposed legislation created to respond to the High Court’s ruling that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful will unfairly and harshly punish refugees, many of whom have already spent years in detention.

“Many of the people recently released are refugees who have already suffered years of indefinite detention. Some have committed crimes, but the key point is that they have already served their sentence,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, spokesperson, Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“The conditions to be imposed are more severe than those which are imposed on people who are on parole generally.  They are, in some respects, unduly harsh. For example, if a visa holder had to travel interstate urgently, according to the government announcement, they will be unable to do so as they need to give seven workings days’ notice before they undertake travel.  

“The proposed curfew, which will require visa holders to stay in their registered address from 10pm to 6am, seems futile. According to the government’s announcement, it will also mean that if an individual has obtained the Minister’s approval to work they will be unable to do night-shifts or leave home before 6am for an early shift.

“The legislation must include independent review of the use of any type of monitoring as there will be people being monitored who don’t need to be monitored.

“It is discriminatory to introduce laws for this cohort that make it a criminal offence to breach visa conditions. Generally, if someone breaches their parole conditions, it is not a criminal offence, and they appear before the parole authorities.  If someone breaches these new visa conditions, this should be dealt with by an independent review panel rather than making the breach a criminal offence.”

The Australian Lawyers Alliance welcomes the fact that immigration detention is, and always should be, an absolute last resort.

“Indefinite immigration detention has no place in the Australian community,” said Mr Tony Kerin, spokesperson, Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“The government’s detention policy, which has resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of people spending years locked up with no idea of when and if they will be free, has had serious impacts on the health of many people.

“This new legislation looks set to unfairly curtail the liberty of refugees who, if they have committed a crime, have already served their sentence and it is an over-reaction to the High Court’s decision.”


Tags: Asylum seekers and refugees Detention Immigration