22 Sep 2020

Ruling sets detainee free and opens door for others in limbo

From Morning Report, 6:19 am on 22 September 2020

A Syrian man who has spent the last six years in Australian detention centres since his visa was cancelled is free after a landmark legal ruling by the Federal Court.

It's believed to be the first time in Australian legal history that someone has been freed from detention under the ancient writ of habeus corpus - which puts the onus on the state to prove a valid reason for keeping someone in prison.

Lawyers for the man, who has lived in Australia since he was 13, argued he was being held unlawfully because nothing had happened on his case for a year.

His solicitor Alison Battison, from the organisation Human Rights For All, says asylum seekers released previously would have their visas revoked and be detained again almost immediately - but this man has been released without a visa.

Battison told our reporter Ruth Hill the judgment sets a precedent for others in legal limbo.