Tuesday 5 May 2015

Manus Island - The High Court of Australia in S156/2013

Yesterday's judgment of the High Court in S156/2013 in my view falls short of a disaster for asylum seekers detained on Manus Island and in Nauru. It is carefully circumscribed to limit its findings to the case as stated. It seems to me that it leaves it open to the Court in a different case to find that the Commonwealth's participation in the detention of aliens on Manus and in Nauru falls outside the aliens power conferred by the Australian Constitution. The judgment is limited to a finding that provisions in the Migration Act that allow the Commonwealth to remove asylum seekers from Australia are lawful. It could in the future, as could the National Court of Papua New Guinea, find that the detention arrangements in that country are not supported by the aliens or any other power in the Australian Constitution and are unlawful so far as Australia is concerned.

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