Refugee supporters could be seen rallying outside the Sydney court precinct in Macquarie St last Wednesday.
The protest against the forced deportation of asylum seekers marked the start of a High Court case in Canberra, the outcome of which will determine the possibility of the federal government going ahead with deportations to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
The case, which involves five lead cases, has been set down for two day’s hearing by the High Court and will determine whether, and in what circumstances, asylum seekers are entitled to procedural fairness regarding advice given to the Minister when making final decisions on appeals to remain in Australia.
If this case is successful, asylum seekers will be able to seek judicial review of such decisions.
Spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, said,“There are serious flaws in the refugee determination process that still need to be addressed.
“A win in this case will mean that the process is a little more transparent. That’s the least that can be asked when the Minister and departmental officials are making life and death decisions.”
City of Sydney Greens Councillor Irene Doutney addressed the protest, calling Australia’s attitude towards asylum seekers shameful.
“Our leaders bicker over who can come up with the most draconian response. Instead of seeking compassionate outcomes, our society revels in fear-mongering and hate,” Cr Doutney said.
“The fate that awaits many returnees is suffering and death. Yet we still send them back to who knows what end. Send them back when it would be so easy to let them stay.
“Only the Greens in parliament have spoken out in support of ending offshore processing and mandatory detention…and we Greens stand here today in support of our three brothers in the High Court.”
Late last year, the attempt to remove Ismail Mirza Jan, the first Afghan asylum seeker under the Memorandum of Understanding with the Afghan government, was stopped by a High Court injunction when Ismail was joined to the High Court case.
Potentially, this High Court case will have as significant an impact as the M61 case in November 2010 which gave all asylum seekers – both on-shore and off-shore applicants – the right to judicial review of their refugee assessments.
By Jason Marshall