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Christmas Island braces for High Court detention judgment

Preparations are almost complete for the return of children to ­detention on Christmas Island ahead of a High Court ruling that human rights lawyers say could have significant ramifications for the future of Australia’s offshore processing regime.

The High Court will on Wednesday deliver its judgment in the case of a Bangladeshi woman who was detained on Nauru but brought to Australia for medical treatment during the last stages of her pregnancy. Hers is the lead case linked to a series of challenges on behalf of 260 people who sought asylum in Australia by boat, were subsequently ­detained on Nauru but are now living on the Australian mainland after being brought here for ­urgent medical treatment or for mental health reasons.


There are 38 babies among them — some born in Australia — and the former Nauru detainees are currently in Brisbane, Melbourne and Darwin. The case began as a challenge to the lawfulness of the Australian government spending money on offshore detention in a foreign country.

After the Abbott government passed legislation that retrospectively gave it that authority, the case challenged whether Australia had the constitutional power to detain people on foreign soil. But two days ­before that hearing it was ­announced that the centre on Nauru was now open and ­asylum-seekers who were sent there were free to move around the ­Pacific Island.



- Melani





2016-02-07
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