It will start all over again at 4.30 this afternoon but the injunction granted by the High Court last night gives refugee advocates some small reason to be optimistic. Yes, it’s a small win but in view of the overall state of immigration politics and policy in this country, it should be remarked.
The High Court injunction "freezes" the implementation of the Malaysia Solution — at least until this afternoon. The Court goes into session at 2.15 and will hear arguments for a further injunction from David Manne and his team then.
What is the case that they are making? The Australian sums it up pithily: "The challenge to the federal government’s Malaysia Solution relies on two arguments; that asylum-seekers arriving in Australia have a right to have claims for refugee protection assessed here, and that the High Court can review Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s declaration that Malaysia is a suitable destination for off-shore processing."
There isn’t much cause for optimism, however. Professor Mary Crock, who has written extensively on refugee law, told The Australian that the Government was on "pretty solid ground". She said, "You’re not going to be able to stop it in the longer term, but what they might be able to do is get some interim relief by attacking the way they’re making questions."
David Manne told the Seven Network that the court’s decision will be a matter of life and death. A media release posted by ChilOut, an organisation which advocates particularly on behalf of children in detention, at 12.13 today said a 17-year-old girl who is due to be deported to Malaysia attempted suicide yesterday by taking medicine from the medical centre at Christmas Island’s Bravo complex.
The Immigration Department has denied the claim.
Over the last month, the plight of detainees on Christmas Island has been turned into an ugly media spectacle. The sensational coverage of the forcible removal of human beings has not been edifying nor has the collusion of media outlets in the Department of Immigration’s circus of deterrence.
It is in the courts that serious rebukes have been issued to Australian governments with regards to their treatment of refugees. On the whole, the court of public opinion has been less kind to refugees. We applaud David Manne and his team at the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre for their persistence.
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