Australia’s Offshore Detention Centers Get Legal Stamp of Approval

Australia’s policy of holding would-be invaders in offshore detention camps in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Christmas Island do not violate the country’s Migration Act or the Constitution, the High Court has ruled—while rejecting an appeal from a fake asylum seeker from Iran.


According to reports in the Australian media, the High Court decision follows an April 2016 ruling by the PNG Supreme Court that the treatment of “asylum seekers” and “refugees” at the Manus Island regional processing center breached that country’s constitution.

The Iranian—whose bid for “refugee protection” was rejected—claimed the PNG ruling invalidated the deal because the constitution prevented the Australian government from undertaking business with another country that was unlawful in that country.

In dismissing the claim, the High Court declared that to be a “novel and sweeping proposition”, and one that had no basis in law.

In a unanimous ruling, the full bench found there was no constitutional requirement for the Commonwealth to conform to international law or the law of another country.

The court also dismissed the claim that the regional resettlement arrangement could not be seen as a valid “arrangement” because PNG lacked the lawful capacity to enter it. Neither of the plaintiff’s claims were tenable, the court ruled, and the plaintiff was ordered to pay costs.

The Iranian arrived in Australia at Christmas Island by boat in July 2013 and was taken to PNG, which had been designated as a “regional processing center” by the Australian government the previous year. The Iranian—one of many correction refused recognition as a “refugee” and designated simply as am illegal immigrant—remains in custody awaiting deportation.

The April 2016 ruling by the PNG Supreme Court ruling has forced the Australian government to shut down the Manus Island center, and it is due to close by end of October. About 800 invaders—al males—are currently on Manus, according to the latest immigration department statistics.

The detention center on Christmas Island—a 52 square mile landmass about 200 miles off the coast of Java and Sumatra, and about 960 miles away from Australia, remains open.

The introduction of the offshore detention facilities completely halted the seaborne invasion of Australia.

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