A recently freed Sudanese refugee has been granted a new visa without an ankle monitor or curfew conditions after challenging the government’s powers in the High Court.
RVJB, a 30-year-old refugee who escaped violence in Sudan with his family to Australia, was among about 150 detainees released after the court ruled in November that indefinite immigration detention was unlawful.
He was subject to a daily curfew from 10pm to 6am and was required to wear an ankle monitor around the clock, in hastily pushed legislation by the Albanese government to contain the legal fallout.
He expressed relief with the visa decision by Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, which follows Melbourne-based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre taking his case in the High Court in late November arguing the government unlawfully exercised its powers.
Before the centre’s case could be considered by the court, the minister granted RVJB a new visa and has since agreed to cover all legal costs.
“It is such a relief to have the monitor and curfew taken off. But I still feel broken,” said the man, who belongs to the Dinka people.
“I sleep during the day and at night the trauma kicks in. I still have pain in my leg from the monitor. We all have to face hard things in life but this is mentally crushing.”
He served time in Australian prisons for various crimes before being held at Christmas Island’s immigration detention centre for seven years.
He has not been convicted of any offence in the past eight years.
Australian citizens who have committed and served time for the same crimes as non-citizens born overseas are generally released into the community without such conditions.
Hannah Dickinson, principal solicitor at the centre, said the granting of a new bridging visa R without an application for her client came in recent days.
She noted further litigation could be on the horizon from other detainees.
“They (these laws) shouldn’t apply to anyone because they are unconstitutional – that’s the main point,” she told AAP.
“There’s a human cost, which is real and devastating, there’s the question of unconstitutional exercise of power and there’s also the question of equality before the law.”
Ms Dickinson stressed the “importance of ensuring everyone is subject to the same laws regardless of where they were born”.
RVJB, who has lived as a permanent resident in Australia since he was a child, is still subject to more than 20 strict visa conditions.
These include reporting requirements and to comply with deportation if need be, despite his refugee status, and breach of those conditions will mean a minimum one-year jail sentence.
For RVJB, he is intent on putting these past few years behind him, along with the last two months being was forced to wear the ankle monitor and abide by the curfew.
“I just want to rebuild my life with my son, my family, and my community.”