The High Court struck down a constitutional challenge to Manus Island and Nauru on 18 June. The High Court decision has ruled that as long as the Immigration Minister forms an opinion that it is “in the national interest” and that asylum seekers can be accommodated, there are no restrictions on which country can be designated as a regional processing centre.
It does not matter whether or not the designation or treatment of the asylum seekers beaches international obligations. Nor does it matter whether or not the receiving country upholds human rights or beaches international obligations; nor the conditions in detention or whether or not asylum seekers are processed in the receiving country.
Just as the High Court has previously found that indefinite mandatory detention is lawful, now according to the law, the Minister has untrammeled powers to send asylum seekers offshore.
This won’t be the last legal challenge to the cruelty of offshore processing. But it is a sharp reminder in Refugee Week that freedom for refugees is not going to be won in the courts—one more very good reason to demonstrate and build the parliament of the streets.