Judgment day for tougher asylum seeker deportation laws

A new High Court judgment has prevented more immigration detainees being released.

A new High Court judgment has prevented more immigration detainees being released. Photo: AAP

A controversial bill threatening non-citizens with prison if they don’t co-operate with their deportation has been judged by a parliamentary committee.

A Senate committee will on Tuesday deliver its findings on Labor’s legislation.

The laws would allow the government to ban people from nations whose governments refuse to accept the return of deported citizens.

Foreigners who don’t comply with their removal from Australia, would face a mandatory minimum 12-month jail term.

Diaspora communities, refugee advocates and the Greens have slammed the legislation, with an inquiry told people could be rounded up and removed.

The laws are linked to an upcoming High Court case, which deals with whether the government must release detainees who don’t co-operate with deportation.

The legal challenge could result in more than 170 people being released from detention.

People from countries including Iran, Iraq, Russia and South Sudan have been floated as possible targets of the ban.

During public hearings into the bill, the committee was told Labor’s bill breached long-held human rights norms.

The coalition, Greens and other crossbenchers teamed up in March to quash Labor’s bid to strengthen the laws, sending the bill to a Senate inquiry.

The opposition warned of unintended consequences that could follow from immigration blanket bans.

Australia is a signatory to various international human rights treaties, which include a principle of not sending refugees back to countries where they face persecution.

Representatives from the Human Rights Law Centre described the proposal to punish people for not wanting to return to the countries they fled from as unprecedented.

About 5000 people in various visa classes would be affected by the legislation, home affairs officials told the inquiry.

The Albanese government has faced months of intense scrutiny over the release of immigration detainees.

In November, the High Court ruled immigration detention unlawful where it was impossible to deport non-citizens, a decision that triggered 151 releases.

The decision ignited a political firestorm over the government’s management of the decision.


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