Australia has kept asylum seekers arriving by boat in indefinite detention.
This policy and practice has incurred censure from relevant international bodies and appears extraordinarily inconsistent with centuries of common law upon which much of the Australian legal system is based. Australia detained internees during the Second World War but even these 'enemy aliens' appear to have been treated reasonably well and released after the war.
What were the persuasive arguments, devices and processes that led to this situtation? The resource package above looks at the facts, issues and arguments of recent years and provides an essential background for any current discussion of refugee issues.
The current policies have not been ruled illegal by the High Court of Australia whose judgements in these cases are based on the Australian Constitution. There are many issues however, which are not covered by the Australian Constitution.
Common law, which includes laws on wrongful imprisonment, a fair trial and trial by jury can go back as far as the Magna Carta but all law can be overruled by any Government of the day unless the highest court in the land declares it illegal on the basis of the Constitution.
Disclaimer: PLease note, we are not constitutional lawyers. Please discuss these issues with legal teachers/legal experts.