The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that the Commonwealth’s failure to place Mr MG in a less restrictive form of detention than in an immigration detention facility was inconsistent with the prohibition on arbitrary detention in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Mr MG is a citizen of the United States of America who had lived in Australia since 21 April 1996. On 13 November 2003 Mr MG pleaded guilty to a number of fraud related offences and was sentenced to a period of imprisonment. He was released from prison on 7 October 2004.
On 2 June 2005, Mr MG’s visa was cancelled on character grounds. On 20 October 2005, he was apprehended by the Commonwealth and placed in detention in an immigration detention facility. He remained in such facilities until he was removed from Australia on 8 May 2009. Less restrictive alternatives were available, for example, Mr MG could have been placed in community detention. He was not.
The Commonwealth maintained that Mr MG’s detention was justified to prevent risk to the Australian community. President Triggs found that to the extent Mr MG posed any such risk, it could have been mitigated. It did not justify holding Mr MG in a closed detention facility for a period of 42 months.
President Triggs therefore found that his detention was not justified.
President Triggs made recommendations that the Commonwealth pay compensation in the amount of $300,000 to Mr MG and provide him with a formal apology. These recommendations were not accepted by the Commonwealth.
As this decision can be reviewed under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth), this is the only statement the Commission will be making on this matter.
Media contact: Sarah Bamford (02) 9284 9758 or 0417 957 525.