Judge von Doussa dismisses habeas corpus case
Judge von Doussa dismisses
habeas corpus case
The habeas corpus case submitted by asylum seekers on Nauru has
been denied in a ruling handed down yesterday (18 June) by Judge
John von Doussa QC.
The applicants alleged that they are being unlawfully detained
at the regional processing centre (RPC) on Nauru, and therefore
sought an order for their release from the RPC. The hearing
commenced last week (10-12 June).
In handing down his ruling yesterday (18 June) Judge von Doussa
dismissed the application on the grounds that the asylum seekers
are being held on Nauru for the purpose of processing their claims
for refugee status.
"…the provisions of the Immigration Act and the regulations
which permit the detention of RPC visas are valid as the detention
is for the very purpose of ultimately "effecting …lawful
removal from Nauru" of the holder"," Judge von Doussa said, citing
the Constitution of Nauru Article 5 (1) (h).
The asylum seekers are granted regional processing visas (RPV)
to be on Nauru while their claims are being assessed. Conditions of
the visa specify that they reside at the Centre. They are also
allowed supervised trips and activities outside the Centre.
"In the present case the visas granted to the applicants, and in
particular their current RPVs, are stated to be for the purpose of
determining their claims for refugee status, and for purposes that
will have to be addressed leading up to their removal from Nauru
when their applications for refugee status have been finally
determined," von Doussa said.
"It is well recognized that the process of investigating and
determining claims for refugee status may take a protracted time.
Nevertheless, at the end removal will occur either to another
country for resettlement, or to their country of nationality.
"So understood, the provisions of the Immigration Act and the
regulations which permit the detention of RPV's are valid as
the detention is for the very purpose of ultimately
"effecting …lawful removal from Nauru" of the holder," Judge von
The application for habeas corpus also argues "that there is
long and unreasonable delay in processing their claims and in
arranging their removal."
Judge von Doussa concluded that "this is an interesting argument
that I think should be left for decision should excessive delay
occur. I do not think such a point has yet been reached. However,
if the excessive delay occurs after the favourable determination of
refugee status another question will arise. The visa conditions can
then allow much greater freedom of movement. Depending on how far
the present restrictions are eased, they may not impose
Legal counsel for the asylum seekers Julian Burnside QC was
assisted by Jay Williams and representing the Secretary for Justice
was Stephen Donaghue.