Asylum-seekers who have been sent to offshore processing centres can keep pursuing legal action against the Commonwealth in the Federal Court, the High Court ruled yesterday. Source: The Australian.
The ruling is being hailed as a “major legal victory” by the asylum-seekers' lawyers.
The High Court yesterday also agreed with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that the Government can argue asylum-seeker claims should be dismissed if they breach a certain section of the Migration Act.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns SC described the decision as a “small win for the Commonwealth but probably a bigger win for the plaintiffs” – four child asylum-seekers who were either sent to or born on Nauru.
The four respondents commenced proceedings in the Federal Court as representatives of more than 50 other asylum-seekers, arguing the Government had failed in its duty of care to asylum-seekers on Nauru.
The Commonwealth disputed the jurisdiction of the Federal Court to hear the cases and appealed to the High Court in September last year.
George Newhouse, director of the national justice project who led the asylum-seekers’ legal team, said they had argued the Federal Court had the authority to hear these claims and the High Court agreed.
Mr Newhouse said the decision vindicates the right of asylum-seekers to “to seek justice for the cruel and inhumane treatment that they suffered”.
The Department of Home Affairs said it was aware of the judgement and considering the court’s reasons.
Asylum-seekers sent offshore can challenge govt in Fed Court (By Rosie Lewis, The Australian)