Unlawful, unconstitutional to detain immigrants indefinitely: Australian High Court
Court overturns 20-year-old ruling
The High Court of Australia ruled Wednesday that detention immigration for an indefinite period is "unlawful and unconstitutional," according to a rights group.
“Indefinite detention ends today," said Sanmati Verma, acting legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre of Australia.
“This has life-changing consequences for people who have been detained for years without knowing when, or even if, they will ever be released," she said.
Verma urged the government to respect the constitutional limits of detention and move immediately to free those who have been indefinitely detained.
The High Court upheld the constitutional validity of indefinite immigration detention nearly 20 years ago in the Al-Kateb versus Godwin case but a majority of judges on the Court overruled that decision Wednesday.
The government has routinely detained immigrants for prolonged periods -- some for more than a decade -- under the previous decision.
"Today, the average period of time for which the Australian Government holds people in immigration detention is 708 days. There are 124 people in detention today whom the Government has detained for over five years," said the Human Rights Law Centre of Australia.
Those detained cannot be returned to their countries of origin, under the law.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid