Australia court: Imprisoning refugees offshore is legal

High Court rules in favour of government’s policy to detain asylum-seekers in offshore prisons, sparking an outcry.

Al Jazeera Staff |

Australia’s High Court has ruled that the government’s offshore detention of refugees is legal, sparking an outcry from the UN and human rights groups.

The verdict, announced on Wednesday, paves the way for 267 asylum-seekers currently in Australia to be deported to the Pacific island of Nauru.

The group includes 39 children as well as 33 babies who were born in Australia.

The legal case was brought by a Bangladeshi woman whose lawyers said her imprisonment on Nauru had been “funded, authorised, procured and effectively controlled” by the Australian government, without the constitutional power to do so.

Reacting to the decision, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the court’s decision was “significant”.

The government will keep Australia’s borders secure and stop drownings at sea, he said, continuing the official line that offshore processing acts as a deterrent for asylum-seekers looking to make the dangerous crossing to Australia from Indonesia or beyond.

The [government] has acted decisively to stop the criminal trade, added Turnbull.

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