Thursday, November 11, 2010

Asylum seekers in Australia - High Court rules in favour of boat people

In a landmark decision, the High Court has ruled that two asylum seekers were denied "procedural fairness" in the review of their rejected refugee status claims.

The bovver boys and girls are already out, lambasting the Government for 'failing to protect Australia's borders', but everyone with a brain knows the Howard Government excised as much as the country as they could manage - in an alarming Pythonesque parody of power run amok - to undermine procedural fairness; bribed a failed state to be complicit in systematic violation of the rights of asylum seekers on Nauru; and, commissioned the building of the latest gulag on Christmas Island. This all happened on Howard's watch and underlines the dangers to democracy when demagogues seek to sideline the rule of law in favour of executive authority.

David Marr has written an interesting piece on this today, an excerpt of which follows:

"...A decision in favour of the men could halt dozens of deportations and change the fate of thousands of boat people held in camps across Australia. The "excision" system that ships them all through Christmas Island would become redundant. The court might put in doubt every negative finding of the so called "non statutory" Refugee Status Assessment system that has decided the fate of every boat person for a decade.

It's big. Few decisions of the court have been so anxiously and eagerly awaited. All will be clear this morning, but when lawyers gathered in August to argue the case in Canberra, judges on the bench indicated they were ready to make a big call: that boat people cannot be detained and processed outside the law..."

Yes, its big and overdue. Hopefully an opportunity will arise for many of those persecuted under the various mandatory detention regimes to seek recompense through the courts.

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