Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Liberties Council Maintains Ending Indefinite Detention Is a Moral and Legal Obligation

Dr Martin Bibby, co-convenor of our Asylum Seeker Action Group, spoke to Sydney Criminal Lawyers about Independent MP Andrew Wilkie's Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021.

Dr Bibby described the legal changes as “morally and legally necessary”. The article quotes him as saying:

“The bill would align Australia with its obligations under international law, and it would reduce the huge costs of current detention programs. The costs in Nauru are huge.”

“It would allow more refugees to enter into the community,” he continued. “It would adhere to the rule of law, and in particular, it would ensure that people have proper procedures for presenting their cases before the courts, instead of being limited as they are now.”

"People are detained on average 48 days in the US and 24 in Canada, while 90 percent of those in the UK’s immigration system are held for less than six months. They are not detained at all in New Zealand.” The civil liberties advocate further outlined that as of last September the average rate of detention for Australian immigration detainees was 689 days, which is almost two years. “That’s about the highest it’s ever been, and, when you exclude other visa cases from the numbers, asylum seekers and refugees have been detained even longer,” Bibby added.

In response to a question about those who’ve been in detention for years now, Bibby said, “Those refugees should simply be accepted into Australian society and have a path to permanent citizenship ... I don’t think it’s a privilege to become an Australian citizen,” he underscored. “It is an entitlement.”

“Those who are still seeking asylum should be released into the community, with restrictions, and then their application should be processed properly, fairly and swiftly,” Dr Bibby concluded.

“And those who have been accepted as refugees should be given a path to citizenship because that is what they’re entitled to.”

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