The High Court of Australia ruled that asylum seekers cannot be prevented from applying for a permanent protection visa if they have already accepted a temporary visa. The Court judgment set further limits on the circumstances in which the Australian government can detain asylum seekers. In other detention-related news, a Guardian Australia investigation revealed that asylum seekers were placed in solitary confinement for days on end at Villawood detention centre.
Asylum seekers who arrived after 19 July 2013 could be offered temporary protection visas (TPVs) and be allowed to live in the Australian community. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is in negotiation with crossbenches to allow the use of such TPVs. Fairfax media described the policy announcement as a ‘backflip’ as the Minister previously said all asylum seekers arriving by boat after 19 July 2013 ‘will not return to live in Australia’.
Mr Morrison declared the asylum seeker policy debate ‘over’, saying Operation Sovereign Borders has achieved ‘extraordinary results’ by effectively stopping the boats. Meanwhile, Fairfax media reported that ‘scores’ of asylum seekers continue to arrive in Jakarta each week.
In Geneva, incoming United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, criticised Australia’s asylum policy for ‘leading to a chain of human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and possible torture following return to home countries’. Mr Morrison rejected the criticism.