Tamil asylum seeker case heads to the High Court

Tamil asylum seeker case heads to the High Court

The case of 157 asylum seekers who were detained at sea on an Australian customs vessel, will be heard by the full bench of the High Court today.

The boatload of mostly Sri Lankan asylum seekers left India on June 13, and were intercepted two weeks later, before being detained on a Customs vessel in the high seas for almost a month.

Lawyers for the asylum seekers, who are now being held in the Nauru Detention Centre, are arguing their clients were falsely imprisoned, and are contesting the government’s power to detain them.

The Abbott government attempted to have the asylum seekers returned to India but failed, instead sending them to Nauru.

The Human Rights Commission and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are both seeking leave to take part in the hearing, which will take place over two days.

Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb, says the High Court’s decision could have huge implications for the government’s asylum seeker policy.

“In particular, the court will look at the Government’s power to detain people at sea and then take them elsewhere and consider whether that’s a power that needs to be exercised fairly; whether that’s a power that needs to be exercised with due consideration for individual circumstances,” he said.

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Libby Dreyer
Libby Dreyer 1729 posts

Libby has worked as a Senior Journalist at National Radio News since February 2011. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Canberra in December 2010.

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