Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated in a Thursday interview that the federal government will introduce new legislation to monitor migrants who have recently been released from indefinite detention. This comes after the High Court of Australia ruled on November 8 that it was unlawful to hold migrants who could not be extradited indefinitely after their prison sentences ended. The new legislation implements strict requirements that set out how the released migrants are to be monitored by Australian officials.
The legislation establishes a new type of visa known as a “bridging visa.” Every individual released on the grounds of the November 8 decision will automatically be registered upon their release under a new bridging visa. The terms of the visa are broken far more easily than most normal visas. The terms include jail sentences for anyone found to be in violation of those terms. The bridging visa also includes strict terms that all visa holders must adhere to, including the use of ankle motoring bracelets at all times and a strict curfew for all visa holders.
Currently, over 80 people have been released in the wake of the High Court’s decision. While these individuals have served out their prison sentences, the government remains concerned about the risk they pose to the general public. The newly announced legislation is an attempt by the government to address that concern.
But the policy has faced criticism from human rights organizations. On Thursday, the Human Rights Law Centre and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre co-authored a letter calling upon “[t]he Albanese Government [to] not proceed with knee-jerk, rushed legislation which continues to curtail people’s right to freedom after the High Court decision.” The two groups claimed that the government is attempting to substitute “one form of punishment for another” by imposing the bridging visas on newly released migrants.
Though the High Court released their decision on the indefinite detention of migrants on November 8, the court has yet to release their reasoning for the opinion. As the legislation is introduced, Australians await the court’s reasoning.