Thursday April 12, 2012 7:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"The Immigration Minister risks a court challenge to his decision to detain the ten Chinese asylum seekers under Australia's mandatory detention legislation after they were locked up in Darwin yesterday afternoon following their declarations to seek asylum in Australia," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The ten Chinese men, women and children are not unlawful arrivals but LAWFUL arrivals: they complied with all maritime protocols for incoming vessels; in addition all adults are passport carrying persons," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Under the 1958 Migration Act, mandatory detention is a legal instrument only reserved for UNAUTHORISED ARRIVALS throughout the term of processing of their claims, but it is not able to be applied to those who lawfully arrive in any of Australia's harbours."
"I have spoken to two senior lawyers who have advanced knowledge of the Migration Act from many court cases they pursued on behalf of detained asylum seekers who arrived "unlawfully", and both lawyers agreed with my propositions as outlined above."
"Immigration Minister Chris Bowen should expect that his decision to detain the asylum seekers will be challenged in court, and that it is very likely that he will be told by the Federal Court to release the ten asylum seekers, if lawyers for the asylum seekers bring an action to this effect."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]