Families fear imminent deportation as High Court confirms Government’s Nauru arrangements do not breach Australian domestic law
3 February 2016
The High Court has ruled that the Australian Government’s role in funding and participating in offshore detention on Nauru does not breach Australian law, but it did not give a blanket authority for the Government’s actions.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said 267 people were terrified they would now face immediate deportation to Nauru.
“The legality is one thing, the morality is another. Ripping kids out of primary schools and sending them to be indefinitely warehoused on a tiny remote island is wrong. We now look to the Prime Minister to step in and do the right thing and let them stay so these families can start to rebuild their lives,” said Mr Webb.
The test case was run by the Human Rights Law Centre on behalf of a woman from Bangladesh who was detained on Nauru but brought to Australia for urgent medical treatment during the late stages of her pregnancy. The case was linked to a series of challenges being run on behalf of more than 260 people who were brought to Australia for urgent medical treatment after suffering harm in offshore detention centres. The group includes women who have been sexually assaulted on Nauru and 37 babies born in Australia
“This mother just wants what all mothers want – her child to have a decent life somewhere safe. With a stroke of a pen, our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, could make that a reality. It’s time to bring some compassion and common sense back to Australian policy and law,” said Mr Webb.
“We’re disappointed with the ruling. But the court’s decision isn’t a blanket authority for the Australian Government as the court has recognised important limits on the government’s powers around the purpose of detention and its length,” said Mr Webb
The legal team who has been running the case includes barristers Ron Merkel QC, Craig Lenehan, David Hume, Rachel Mansted, Emma Bathurst and Stacks Goudkamp Lawyers. Assistance has also been provided by the Refugee Advice and Casework Service and Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network.
“The legality is complex but the morality is simple – it would be fundamentally wrong for the Government to condemn these families to a life in limbo on Nauru,” said Mr Webb.
Further background information about the case can be found here.
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