High Court Dismisses Challenge To Our Offshore Detention Policies

The High Court in Canberra has thrown out a challenge to the Australian government’s offshore detention on Nauru, which could have deemed our entire offshore detention regime invalid.

Lawyers for a Bangladeshi woman intercepted on board a boat heading for Australia in October 2013 and taken to Christmas Island and later Nauru have been arguing for nine months that it is illegal for the government to operate and pay for offshore detention in a third country. She was brought to Australia while pregnant for medical treatment in August 2014 suffering serious health complications, and later gave birth to her daughter in Brisbane.

This legal action, filed by lawyers from the Human Rights Law Centre, was a bid to prevent her from being deported back to Nauru.

However, today the full bench ruled 6–1 held that section 198AHA of the Migration Act 1958 authorised that the Government’s actions were legal.

“The High Court held, by majority, that the plaintiff was not entitled to the declaration sought,”
the judgement said. “The conduct of the Commonwealth in signing the second MOU with Nauru was authorised by s 61 of the Constitution.”

The High Court also ruled that the plaintiff should pay the costs of the government.

She is now facing deportation with her one-year-old child.

This ruling means that hundreds of asylum seekers who were brought to Australia for medical treatment – plus 37 babies born in Australia – will likely be sent back to Nauru within 72 hours.

Photo: Digital Global / ScapeWare3d / Getty.