Eighty potential threats to public safety – including a paedophile and a hitman killer – have been released from indefinite detention after last week’s landmark High Court ruling which found they were being held unlawfully.
The mass release comes after a refugee who raped a 10-year-old boy was let out into the community by the High Court decision.
The key ruling immediately prompted the possible release of up to 92 non-citizens held in detention who could not be deported to their home countries.
The total includes those convicted of serious offences, who had failed the good character test, or were feared to be threats to national security.
On Monday, immigration Minister Andrew Giles said 80 of those being detained had now been freed and given a visa, including a Malaysian hitman.
He insisted Australian Federal Police and Border Force were involved in the release of those detained and their future supervision to protect public safety.
The Australian government has opposed the court’s decision, he told ABC National, but said they had prepared to deal with the consequences.
Eighty asylum seekers have been released from indefinite detention after a refugee who raped a 10-year-old boy as freed by a High Court ruling that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful. High Court Chief Justice Stephen Gageler is pictured
The court ruled in favour of a Rohingyan paedophile known only as NZYQ who has been in detention since serving a prison sentence for child sexual abuse
The court found in favour of a Rohingya paedophile – known in proceedings only as NZYQ – who has been in detention since serving a prison sentence for child sexual abuse.
The Rohingya are a stateless Islamic people who reside in western Myanmar near the border with Bangladesh, where they are persecuted.
Because the Rohingya are not citizens of Myanmar – who consider them Bengalis and not a distinct ethnic group – NZYQ cannot be deported there.
NZYQ arrived in Australia by boat in 2012 and had his bridging visa cancelled in 2015 when he pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old child.
He was transferred to an immigration detention centre in May 2018 after serving a minimum sentence of three years and four months and being denied a ‘safe haven enterprise’ visa.
Until the High Court ruling, NZYQ faced the prospect of remaining in immigration detention for the rest of his life.
He will now be released into the community and the Commonwealth will pay his legal costs.
NZYQ was transferred to an immigration detention centre in May 2018 after serving a minimum sentence of three years and four months and being denied a visa. Villawood detention centre in western Sydney is pictured
In the wake of the decision, the government admitted 92 people were being held in similar circumstances, and up to 300 could be affected.
Those released had now been given a bridging visa and were obliged to report in to police or appropriate authorities on a regular basis.
‘That’s obviously one of the bases on which we ensure community safety,’ Mr Giles told the ABC.
The immigration minister said the ruling had changed the law after two decades.
‘What we need to do now is to work through it appropriately, doing all the short-term things,’ he said.
‘Those immediate actions to ensure community safety today, while being focused resolutely on ensuring into the longer term we can keep the community safe and uphold the laws of Australia.
‘We also need to have the opportunity to consider the reasons the High Court has handed down the decision last week, and we don’t yet have those reasons.’
Among those now freed is Sirul Azahr Umar, 51, who was sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the pregnant girlfriend of a political operative, whom he killed and then blew up the body.
Umar, who had been a bodyguard for the Malaysian prime minister, was freed from Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney on Saturday and is now understood to be in Canberra, staying with a relative.
Sirul Azahr Umar (left), who committed a horrific murder in his home country of Malaysia is now walking free in Australia after a High Court ruling against indefinite detention. Umar was sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu (right), the pregnant girlfriend of a political operative, whom he killed and then blew up the body
Umar, a former commando, escaped to Australia after being sentenced to death for murder.
His claim for asylum was turned down in 2019 and he had been kept in indefinite detention since then because Australia would not deport him to Malaysia unless it abolished the death penalty.
The woman he murdered was the partner of Razak Baginda, a close associate of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
A court in Malaysia found that Uman kidnapped Ms Shaariibuu and brought her to the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, where he shot her and blew her body up.
Umar managed to flee to Australia while on bail waiting for an appeal.
The opposition has demanded to know more about the details behind the releases and the ongoing supervision they will face on the streets.
‘We know of the 92 people who are caught by this High Court decision, that 83 were being held on character grounds,’ Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan said.
‘The public needs to know, and the public wants to know, what is the government doing to keep them safe?
‘What are the character grounds that these people were being held on, what are they doing to liaise with state and territory authorities to keep the community safe?’
More to follow