Mobiles to stay in detention centres – for now

| March 17, 2017 | Reply

This morning, Friday, Justice Rares found that the Federal Court had jurisdiction to consider whether or not the government’s decree to ban mobile phones from detention centres was lawful.

This means that the injunction preventing Serco, Border Force or other government officers from seizing mobile phones stays in place.

The injunction was first granted at an out-of-hours hearing of the Federal Court on Sunday 19 February, at which detainees challenged whether the phone-ban decree and move to seize phones was lawful. At that hearing the Commonwealth questioned whether the Federal Court had jurisdiction to consider the lawfulness of seizing mobile phones.

The matter has been set for a directions hearing on 21 April in the Federal Court pending any move by the Commonwealth to appeal the decision.

The rule surrounding mobile phones is inconsistent in any case. Under present rules, boat arrivals are precluded from having a mobile phone while others in immigration detention are allowed to have them.

This inconsistency has meant that some mobile phones have been seized from boat arrivals, even after the injunction was put in place on 19 February.

“Everyone in detention should be able to have a mobile phone. Phones that have already been seized should be returned,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Detention centres are not correctional facilities, even though the government treats everyone in detention as criminals. The detention centres should be closed. Until then the phones remain a lifeline to family, community and legal support; it is that support that the government wants to cut off, in the same way it has shamefully cut off legal support for asylum seekers to make their protection applications.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Category: Press releases

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