Ninety-three people released by court order from indefinite immigrant detention will be forced to comply with strict visa conditions starting Saturday.
Australia’s High Court ruled November 8 that people could not be held indefinitely in immigration detention. In response, the country’s Labor government rushed new laws through Federal Parliament that force released detainees to adhere to strict visa restrictions, including wearing electronic monitoring devices.
Individuals must provide authorities with information about whom they live with, travel plans, associations with clubs or other organizations and personal financial details.
Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles told local media the measures were designed “to keep the community safe.”
Documents filed by government lawyers to the court showed that the 93 people released from indefinite detention after the ruling included about 20 detainees arrested in Australia over concerns about "national security [and] cybercrime,” while others were members of “serious and high-profile organized” criminal gangs.
Twenty-seven other detainees were convicted in Australia of very serious "violent offences, crimes against children” or “violent, sexual or exploitative offences against women."
The High Court case involved a stateless Rohingya man who faced possible lifelong detention in Australia because no country would admit him because of an Australian conviction for child sexual offenses.
The government had insisted his detention was lawful because it planned to expel him but had not been able to send him to another country.
Rights groups have criticized the new detainee monitoring laws.
Josephine Langbien, the acting managing lawyer of the Human Rights Law Center, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Friday the legislation is overly restrictive.
“It is a regime that is going to subject this particular group of people to harsher restrictions and harsher penalties than anyone else in similar circumstances in the Australian community,” she said. “The majority of people in this situation are people who cannot be returned to their country of origin because either they are stateless or they are at risk of serious persecution.”
Australia, however, claims the new surveillance measures are lawful and proportionate.
Many of the released detainees are from Afghanistan, Iran or Sudan.
Officials say 340 other detainees in Australian immigration centers may have to be released. A final determination on their cases is not expected until the High Court’s full judgment, which might not be delivered before next year.
It is common practice for High Court justices to give written reasons for their decisions, which are handed down at a later sitting.