Refugees Win High Court Battle Against Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton
Lawyers for refugees who were detained by the government in Nauru and Papua New Guinea have marked a major legal victory in the High Court of Australia against the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton.
The High Court of Australia ruled that the Federal Court now has the power to hear the cases of over 50 refugees and asylum seekers challenging the adequacy of healthcare in detention, after the Commonwealth appealed to the Court in September 2019 to dispute the jurisdiction of the Federal Court, arguing the refugees' cases must be heard in the High Court.
Jennifer Kanis, principle lawyer for legal firm Maurice Blackburn, said the decision provides a clear pathway for current and future legal claims.
"The High Court has confirmed people in offshore detention in Nauru and Manus Island can seek urgent, lifesaving treatment through the Federal Court," she said in a statement via Shepparton News.
"This decision means that refugees and asylum seekers will not have to endure the additional cost, inconvenience and delay of bringing healthcare claims through the High Court.
"This is an important precedent regarding where asylum seekers' claims challenging the adequacy of healthcare should be heard."
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George Newhouse, Principal Solicitor and Director of the National Justice Project said of the ruling: "We've argued successfully at every stage that the Federal Court has the jurisdiction to hear these claims. Today, the High Court agreed.
"This decision vindicates the right of our clients to seek justice for the cruel and inhumane treatment that they suffered.
"In an act of legal bastardry, the government tried to slow down the course of justice, and they failed.
"The decision vindicates our clients. By taking legal action against the government, our clients hope to access the long-term medical and psychological care that they need.
"Many of our clients are young children who have suffered so much from the Minister's cruel policies. These children suffer from constant nightmares, they struggle to interact with other children, and they experience suicidal thoughts. Some of them have self-harmed or attempted to take their own lives."
He added: "Now, we will fight in the Federal Court to make the government accountable for what it has done to these children."
Featured Image Credit: Creative Commons
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