Human Rights Law Centre condemns secretive deportation to Nauru

The Human Rights Law Centre has condemned the Turnbull Government’s secretive deportation of a man from Australia to Nauru last night.

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, warned the deportation would terrify hundreds of refugees and people seeking asylum currently in the Australian community but still fearful of being sent back offshore.

The man who was deported is not a client of the Human Rights Law Centre, but the HRLC understands that he had already been assessed as a refugee and was legally represented but was removed without any notice to him or his lawyers.

“A decent and compassionate government which respects the rule of law doesn’t choose to secretively deport people found to be refugees in the middle of the night without any transparency, due process or access to legal advice,” said Mr Webb.

“We represent many of a group of 320 people, including over 100 children and babies, who were previously held offshore but returned to Australia after suffering serious harm inside the Nauru or Manus detention centres.This deportation, along with Malcolm Turnbull’s talk of ‘lifetime visa bans’, will terrify these families. They are already rebuilding their lives in our communities but remain at risk of deportation on 72 hours’ notice. The message these families will be taking from all this is that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day soon you could be next,” said Mr Webb.

“There are kids in our classrooms right now who in the space of the last few days have heard Malcolm Turnbull threatening lifetime bans and now seen someone in a similar situation to them secretly deported. They are understandably afraid and really unsettled. What are they supposed to say to their friends at school? It’s fundamentally cruel.”

The group of 320 includes over 40 babies born in Australia – children born in Australian hospitals who have never seen a boat but who, because of retrospective changes to the Migration Act, are now legally classified as if they arrived on one.

“We are talking about 40 babies who were born here and who have taken their first steps and spoken their first words in our communities. Their families have been through a lot but are just starting to rebuild their lives and were just starting to feel hopeful. But this week has really rocked them.”

“The Government has to make clear whether it is going to rip these people from our communities and send them back to harm, or do the decent and sensible thing and let them stay.”

“It’s clear Nauru and Manus are dead ends. The government urgently needs to find a humane way forward. The innocent people on Nauru and Manus must be brought to safety in Australia. Those already here must be allowed to stay and continue rebuilding their lives in our communities,” said Mr Webb.

For further comments or queries please contact:

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, 0437 278 961

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519