Immigration Minister Andrew Giles.
Andrew Giles says the government has implemented measures to keep the community safe. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Former detainees to face prison time for rule breaches

November 18, 2023

More than 90 people released from indefinite detention will be fitted with ankle monitors and face imprisonment if they breach tight reporting requirements.

Emergency legislation to change visa rules passed federal parliament on Thursday following a landmark High Court ruling that has resulted in the release of 93 asylum seekers.

Some murderers and rapists who completed sentences for their crimes in correctional facilities were among the group released, sparking community safety concerns.

The laws came into effect on Saturday.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said those released face strict conditions and must abide by them, with any breaches now deemed a criminal offence.

High Court of Australia
 The High Court is yet to publish its reasons for the decision. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

Detainees will be required to report on the people they live with, their travel plans, associations with clubs or organisations, financial information and any contact with individuals or groups involved in criminal activity.

They will be fitted with electronic monitoring devices and placed under curfews.

People convicted of crimes against children will be banned from working with them or going near schools or daycare centres.

“These breaches have a mandatory minimum sentence of one year, and a maximum penalty of five years in prison,” Mr Giles told reporters in Melbourne.

“The government has acted throughout this with community safety as our number one concern.”

Mr Giles said the full implications of the court’s decision could not be properly understood until it released the reasons behind its decision.

“We will consider future legislation if required,” he said.

Lawyers have called for an urgent review of the new laws.

The president of the Law Council of Australia, which represents 90,000 lawyers, said experts in migration, social services and the law must be involved in a review.

“We have strong concerns about the rushed passage of an Act that imposes harsh offence provisions subject to mandatory sentences and draconian limitations on liberty that are disproportionate to the risks it seeks to address,” Luke Murphy said.

He said people who had completed prison sentences were routinely released into the community and claimed mandatory sentencing requirements were arbitrary and limited an individual’s right to a fair trial.

“The Law Council believes that placing restrictions on the liberties of individuals based on a prediction they may commit a future offence is only legitimate as an extraordinary and appropriately tailored scheme,” he said.