‘Proposed legislation would put all in detention centres with same brush’: LCA

By Tony Zhang|11 August 2020
Pauline Wright

Failure to differentiate between people in immigration detention and those who are treated unequally under the law is a major flaw within Australia’s immigration legislation according to the Law Council of Australia.

Law Council of Australia said the release of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee’s report into the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Facilities) Bill 2020 fails to make a case that the proposed amendments to the legislation are necessary, reasonable or proportionate. 

Law Council president, Pauline Wright, said the failure to distinguish between the people in immigration detention generally, and individuals who pose a genuine risk to safety and security, is a major flaw within the legislation.

“While the Law Council supports effective management of safety in immigration detention facilities, claims regarding the impact of changes to the composition of persons within detention centres must be demonstrated and the management of detention centres must occur in accordance with the rule of law,” Ms Wright said.

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This comes after the Federal Court of Australia has ruled a man in his 60s must no longer be held at an immigration detention facility in Melbourne’s north due to the risk of him contracting coronavirus.

On Monday, Justice Bernard Murphy made an interim order to Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to cease detaining the 68-year-old man at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) centre in Broadmeadows.

While the final hearing of the case has not been heard, the court was satisfied the man’s current detention at MITA could be in breach of the Department of Home Affairs duty of care.

Furthermore, the Australian Border Force confirmed on Monday that a man had died while being detained at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre but did not elaborate on the circumstances of his death.

The Law Council stated they firmly believe that if criminal activity is found to be taking place, then the police should be called, and standard criminal law processes should be followed. 

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Ms Wright said it was of great concern that the government is proposing a bill in which “all detainees may be prevented from possessing vitally important everyday items because of the criminal activity of a few.”

“Recent reports that a detainee accessed child pornography via his phone is an example of the need for criminal justice process to take place when criminal activity has been discovered,” Ms Wright said.

“This one criminal act does not justify depriving the other thousand or so detainees from having access to a mobile phone.

“The prohibiting of mobile phones or other internet-capable devices will have a direct and adverse effect on the timely and confidential provision of legal information and advice, and the rights of detainees.

“The government must remember that detainees are in administrative, not corrective, detention.”

‘Proposed legislation would put all in detention centres with same brush’: LCA
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