Release of Medically Transferred Refugees from Immigration Detention

March 5, 2021

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to release a number of refugees from immigration detention who were previously transferred from offshore processing to Australia for vital medical treatment. 

Caitlin Caldwell, Co-Chair of ALHR’s Refugee Rights Subcommittee said, “ALHR calls on the Federal Government to urgently release all medically-evacuated refugees who remain in detention and provide them, as well as the approximately 260 people who remain subject to offshore processing, with access to durable, permanent protection solutions so they can restart their lives with certainty and safety.”

”The indefinite, arbitrary detention of these individuals is a clear violation of Australia’s international human rights obligations, including under the Refugee Convention and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It appears the Federal Government lacks an efficient and humane long-term plan for medically evacuated refugees resulting in men, women and children being subject to unnecessary mental and physical trauma.” 

“The Federal Government’s silence on the process, including why some ‘medevac’ refugees have been released, and others not, is particularly concerning,” said Ms Caldwell. “This apparently ad hoc release of individuals onto six-month bridging visas, without any safety net whatsoever, creates a significant burden on the mental health of both released refugees and those who remain indefinitely detained without any clear reasoning.”

“ALHR calls on the Federal Government to urgently make the process it is using for the release of refugees transparent and coherent and to ensure that all adults and children released have access to adequate support systems so that they can live securely and safely in the community without reliance on charity.”

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.