IN THE FEDERAL COURT )OF AUSTRALIA
SOUTH AUSTRALIA DISTRICT
No. S202 of
On appeal from a single Judge
of the Federal Court of Australia
MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION
AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
AKRAM OUDA MOHAMMAD AL MASRI
ARGUMENT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, intervening
Leave to intervene
1. The Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission (the "Commission") files these
written submissions pursuant to the orders entered 24 September 2002.
The Commission makes no submissions on the respondent's motion of 18 September
2002. On the assumption that the appeal is competent, the Commission's
submissions address the proper construction of s.196 of the Migration
Act 1958 (Cth) (the "Act").
Summary of the Commission's
2 The apparently
unqualified duty to keep in detention imposed by s196 must be read down
by reference to:
- The constitutional
limitation flowing from s51(xix) and Chapter III, that the detention
that may validly be required and authorized is limited to what is reasonably
necessary, or capable of being seen as necessary, for the purposes,
relevantly, of removal from Australia: Chu Kheng Lim & Ors v
Minister for Local Government and Ethnic Affairs (1992) 176 CLR
1 ("Lim") at 10, 11-12, 30-31, 32, 65;
- The statutory
duty in section 198 to remove as soon as reasonably practicable: if
an unlawful non-citizen is not removed as soon as reasonably practicable,
section 196 does not authorize the continued detention of the person,
despite its apparently unqualified terms: Lim at 11-12, 34.1;
a limitation on detention of the kind found by the trial judge in paragraph
 is similarly to be implied into section 196;
- General principles
of construction in Australia and other common law countries concerning
deprivation of personal liberty, and decisions in the specific application
of those principles to immigration detention powers, whether expressed
in mandatory or discretionary terms;
- Australia's treaty
3. The construction
contended for by the Minister, which would support indefinite detention
provided that a purpose subsists of removing the person in the event that
it should one day become practicable, is inconsistent with the limitations
referred to above. "Purpose" in this context cannot be a merely
subjective purpose of the Minister or an officer, a hope or a determination
to remove as soon as it becomes practicable, even if there is only the
remotest prospect of that ever occurring. The limitations implied by the
trial judge give objective content to the "purpose", an objectively
ascertainable standard against which indefinite detention, which would
otherwise infringe both the constitutional limitations on non-judicial
punishment, and the limitations properly to be implied into the statute,
may be tested.
Constitutional limits on the
scope of the power to detain
4. Executive or administrative
powers conferred by the Act to detain a non-citizen will be constitutionally
valid so long as they are limited to what is reasonably capable of
being seen as necessary to effect the exclusion or deportation, or
to consider the admission, of the person: Lim at 10, 11-12, 30-31,
5. The High Court
in Lim upheld the validity of statutory powers of detention which
imposed an upper limit on that detention of approximately 10 months and
which (via the equivalent of section 198(1)) provided for a detainee to
bring her or his detention to an end by request. 
Each of those features was relied upon by the majority in reaching the
conclusion that such detention was a valid exercise of legislative power
under s 51(xix) of the Constitution. 
6. It is the vulnerability
and exposure to exclusion or deportation as an incident of sovereignty
over territory which significantly diminishes the protection which Chapter
III of the Constitution provides in the case of a citizen against imprisonment
otherwise than pursuant to judicial process. 
7. However, restraint
and detention are only associated with the power to deport because they
may be "necessary to make expulsion or deportation effective".
 As Latham CJ said in Koon Wing Lau (McTiernan
and Webb JJ concurring):
Section 7 does
not create or purport to create a power to keep a deportee in custody
for an unlimited period. The power to hold him in custody is only a
power to do so pending deportation and until he is placed on board a
vessel for deportation and on such a vessel and at ports at which the
vessel calls. If it were shown that detention was not being used for
these purposes the detention would be unauthorised and a writ of habeas
corpus would provide an immediate remedy.
As such, a valid
power of detention in this context must take its character from the Executive
powers to exclude, admit and deport, of which it is an incident. 
A statute conferring power to detain that exceeds what is reasonably necessary
for the exercise of those "core powers", will be invalid or
should be read down by reason of Chapter III. 
Relevant features of the Act
8. One of the basic
distinctions in the Act is between lawful and unlawful non-citizens: see
section 5 for the definition of non-citizen, and section 13 for the distinction
between lawful and unlawful non-citizens.
9. The regulation
of the expulsion of non-citizens from Australia occurs through the Act
by either removal (in the case of unlawful non-citizens: see sections
198 and 199) or deportation (in the case of lawful non-citizens: see sections
200 to 203). In both those circumstances the Act makes specific provision
for the detention of non-citizens in order to achieve their expulsion
or deportation. However in respect of non-citizens subject to deportation,
the Minister and the Secretary retain a discretionary power to release.
 As Merkel J noted at first instance, 
that feature distinguishes the statutory scheme under consideration here
from that which was the subject of the Full Court's decision in Vo
v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. 
As was observed by the majority in Lim, the presence or absence
of such safeguards will be significant in determining whether the power
of detention in question is capable of being seen as necessary for the
purposes of admission, deportation or removal. 
As such, the absence of a comparable safeguard within the legislative
scheme under consideration in this matter may require the Court to construe
the legislation so as to impose comparatively stricter limits upon the
power to detain in order to ensure that the Act remains within constitutional
limits: cf Minister's submissions, paragraph 31.
10. Section 196 appears
in Part II, Division 7 of the Act, which is headed "Detention of
11. Section 189,
which also appears in that division, confers upon "officers"
 powers to arrest and take into immigration detention.
The power of an officer to arrest and take into immigration detention
is made subject to an "enlivening" condition of reasonable suspicion
that a person is an unlawful non-citizen. If the suspicion of an officer
is not justifiable upon objective examination of the relevant material
or if the material before that officer only indicates that the person
in question "may" be an unlawful non-citizen, then that condition
precedent to the exercise of that power will not be satisfied and the
detention will be unlawful from the outset. 
12. If section 189
stood alone (and was not read down) it would be invalid as being a power
to indefinitely detain, having an insufficient nexus with the powers to
admit, deport or exclude. The power to detain is, however, conditioned
and further limited by, inter alia, section 196 and section 198.
13. The Commission
made submissions upon one such additional limitation arising from section
196 in the appeal in VFAD v Minister for Multicultural Affairs
("VFAD"):  being that, in contrast
to section 189(1), section 196(1) only provides for the continued detention
of persons who are in fact unlawful non-citizens. That limitation is not
relevant here as it is common ground that the respondent was an unlawful
14. Section 196 also
imposes temporal limitations upon the power to detain. The section is
headed "Period of detention".  The power
to keep in detention under section 196 has an end point, determined by
reference to other provisions of the Act (being the provisions for removal
under section 198 or section 199, the powers of deportation under section
200 and the provisions for the grant of a visa). As such, section 196
invites consideration of the provisions conferring those other powers
to ascertain the limits of the power to continue to detain.
15. The provision
which arises for consideration here is section 198(1). As noted above,
the presence of the equivalent provision and the ten month limit upon
the period of detention were central to the reasoning of the majority
in Lim in upholding the validity of the administrative detention
scheme there considered. The ten month limit no longer appears in the
Act. The limitation upon section 196 detention to be implied from section
198(1) is crucial to the validity of the detention scheme.
16. The majority
in Lim characterised the equivalent provision considered there
upon a designated person to bring his or her detention in custody under
Div. 4B to an end at any time
it is only if an alien who
is a designated person elects to remain in the country as an
applicant for an entry permit that detention under Div. 4B can continue
Upon that "power"
being exercised by a detainee, further detention was said to be authorised
only for the:
involved, in the circumstances of a particular case, in complying with
the statutory requirement of removal 'as soon as practicable'. 
The Minister, in
his submissions, has focused upon the duty of the Minister under section
198(1) to remove as soon as reasonably practicable. 
However, the characterisation of section 198(1) as conferring a "power"
upon a detainee, the exercise of which invokes an implied limitation upon
the power to detain is, in the Commission's submission, more significant
for present purposes.
17. The term "power"
appears to have been used by their Honours in Lim in the sense
of an ability or capacity to act so as to alter one's circumstances: one
can, by its exercise, bring one's detention to an end. That characterisation
invites the question (which was unnecessary for the Court to consider
in Lim): how is that limitation to be construed where the detainee, by
reason of circumstances, cannot by that means bring his or her detention
to an end? Such circumstances arise if there is, in fact, no real likelihood
or prospect of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future. The detainee
does not "elect" to stay detained in those circumstances. The
choice is rather foreclosed by reasons beyond their control. The protection
of the power of election discussed by their Honours, which was clearly
seen as central to the question of whether the detention could be characterized
as "necessary for the purposes of deportation or to enable an entry
application to be made and considered",  will
18. The work to be
done by the implied limitation in confining the detention to the extent
of the constitutional power is heightened by the removal of the 10 month
upper limit on detention that existed at the time Lim was decided.
In contrast to the case under consideration in Lim, there was on
the facts before his Honour (which are the only relevant facts: cf Minister's
submissions, paragraph 43) no power to end the detention by election,
and no fixed time limit.
19. The Commission
submits on that basis that the second implied limitation identified by
Merkel J in paragraph 38 of his Honour's reasons 
does indeed apply to the detention scheme under consideration here.
20. The determination
of whether such an implied limitation has been reached in a particular
case may, as the Minister observes, require consideration of negotiations
between governments.  However, this appears to have
proved no obstacle to Courts of high authority applying such limitations
elsewhere.  Similarly, Australian Courts have not
used the concept of justiciability to avoid determining sensitive matters
of international interest, particularly where liberty is involved. 
Indeed, the rule of law requires the Courts to grant whatever remedies
are available and appropriate to ensure that those possessed of executive
and administrative powers exercise them only in accordance with the laws
that govern their exercise.  Moreover, the Minister's
suggestion that a detainee could seek review of a failure to remove as
soon as practicable  would require consideration
of a similar body of material.
21. It is true that
an approach based on reasonableness does involve some uncertainty, as
the Full Court in Vo also pointed out (at ). However, "reasonableness"
is a concept familiar to the law in many areas ("reasonable doubt",
"reasonable care", an "unreasonable" administrative
decision) and whilst susceptible of different applications, it is used
as a standard by Courts every day in different jurisdictions. Any such
difficulties seem insignificant compared to the position the appellant
seems prepared to contemplate, which would permit a person held ostensibly
"until removal" (even where removal is, from the outset, unlikely
to be able to be achieved), for say 50 years, provided bona fide efforts
to effect removal continued. At some point, the line must be drawn.
Other relevant principles
of statutory construction
22. As noted above,
the implied condition upon power suggested by his Honour is also supported
by rules or principles of construction derived from international law,
the common law and the rule of law. As in VFAD, the Commission
submits that it is significant that those principles (which are discussed
below) speak with one voice despite their different origins.
23. It is a long-established
principle that a statute is to be interpreted and applied, so far as its
language admits, in a manner which is consistent with established rules
of international law and which accords with Australia's treaty obligations.
 That approach is not limited in its application
to ambiguous statutory provisions.  Rather, wherever
the language of a statute is susceptible of a construction which is consistent
with the terms of the relevant international instrument and the obligations
which it imposes on Australia, that construction must prevail. 
24. Conversely, if
the Parliament intends to legislate inconsistently with Australia's international
obligations, it should express that intention clearly. Such a requirement
does not infringe upon the principle of Parliamentary supremacy. Rather,
it contributes to greater integrity in the legislative process by ensuring
that Parliament squarely confronts situations where proposed legislation
breaches binding international obligations, being obligations which the
Executive has solemnly entered into on behalf of Australia.
25. In the present
case, sections 196(1)(a) and 198 of the Act should be construed in a manner
which is consistent with the following rights conferred by the ICCPR:
- the right not
to be detained arbitrarily or deprived of liberty except on such grounds
and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law (article
9(1) of the ICCPR); and
- the right of any
person deprived of their liberty to take proceedings before a Court
in order that the Court may decide without delay upon the lawfulness
of their detention and order their release if the detention is not lawful
(article 9(4) of the ICCPR).
26. Article 9 of
the ICCPR relevantly provides:
has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected
to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty
except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are
established by law.
4. Anyone who
is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled
to take proceedings before a court, in order that court may decide without
delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the
detention is not lawful.
27. Article 9(1)
recognises a right to liberty and then provides for certain limitations
on that right. Any such limitations must satisfy the separate requirements
of "lawfulness" and absence of "arbitrariness". The
United Nations Human Rights Committee (the "UNHRC") 
has clearly indicated that those requirements should not be conflated:
The drafting history
of article 9, paragraph 1, confirms that 'arbitrariness' is not to be
equated with 'against the law', but must be interpreted more broadly to
include elements of inappropriateness, injustice and lack of predictability.
28. In A v Australia,
 the UNHRC reiterated that principle:
recalls that the notion of 'arbitrariness' must not be equated with
'against the law', but interpreted more broadly to include such elements
as inappropriateness and injustice. Furthermore, remand in custody could
be considered arbitrary if it is not necessary in all the circumstances
of the case, for example to prevent flight or interference with evidence:
the element of proportionality becomes relevant in this context.
29. The length of
detention per se will not be determinative of whether there is a breach
of article 9.  Length of detention is, however,
relevant to the requirements of necessity and proportionality. This imposes
upon the state a burden of "appropriate justification", which
was discussed in A v Australia as follows:
should not continue beyond the period for which the State can provide
appropriate justification. For example, the fact of illegal entry may
indicate a need for investigation and there may be other factors particular
to the individuals, such as the likelihood of absconding and lack of
cooperation, which may justify detention for a period. Without such
factors detention may be considered arbitrary, even if entry was illegal.
30. The UNHRC has
specifically considered the detention of persons being expelled or deported
from a country in relation to Article 9. For example, in its concluding
comments on Switzerland, the UNHRC said:
The Committee notes
with concern that [Swiss law] permits the administrative detention of
foreign nationals without a temporary or permanent residence permit,
including asylum seekers and minors over the age of 15, for three months
while the decision on the right of temporary residence is being prepared,
and for a further six months, and even one year with the agreement of
the judicial authority pending expulsion. The Committee notes that these
time limits are considerably in excess of what is necessary, particularly
in the case of detention pending expulsion
31. The United Nations
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (the "Working Group") 
also monitors compliance with article 9 and receives individual complaints
regarding its breach. The Working Group has considered complaints made
by criminal deportees, detained under the transitional provisions passed
with the statute considered in Zadvydas v Davis 
(discussed below). The persons detained were to be deported to Cuba. The
Government of Cuba was not prepared to repatriate them and it therefore
appeared that there was no likelihood of deportation in the reasonably
foreseeable future. In those circumstances, the Working Group did not
accept that the detention of those persons was necessary and found that
they were arbitrarily detained. The fact that those persons were said
to represent a threat to the American community was not considered sufficient
to satisfy the requirement of necessity.  A fortiori
in the current matter, where there was no evidence before Merkel J to
suggest that the respondent represented any threat to the Australian community.
32. A second aspect
of article 9 is the right to bring proceedings to have the lawfulness
of one's detention determined without delay: see article 9(4). "Lawfulness"
in the context of article 9(4) does not simply mean "lawfulness"
under municipal law. This was made clear by the UNHRC in A v Australia,
where the Australian government sought to argue that there had been no
breach of article 9(4) because the author of the complaint had access
to the courts (and was simply unable to be released by virtue of the effects
of division 4B of the Migration Amendment Act 1992 (Cth)). The
UNHRC rejected that argument stating:
court review of
the lawfulness of detention under article 9, paragraph 4, which must
include the possibility of ordering release, is not limited to mere
compliance of the detention with domestic law. While domestic legal
systems may institute differing methods for ensuring court review of
administrative detention, what is decisive for the purposes of article
9, paragraph 4, is that such review is, in its effects, real and not
merely formal. By stipulating that the court must have the power to
order release "if the detention is not lawful", article 9,
paragraph 4, requires that the court be empowered to order release,
if the detention is incompatible with the requirements in article 9,
paragraph 1, or in other provisions of the Covenant.
33. The Minister's
suggested construction of sections 196(1)(a) and 198 would only require
good faith efforts to remove as soon as practicable. As the Minister concedes,
this may involve ongoing detention for a lengthy period. 
The Minister's only suggested recourse for a person thus detained is that
they seek review of a failure to make a migration processing decision
or a failure to remove as soon as practicable. 
That construction would be inconsistent with article 9 of the ICCPR for
a number of reasons:
- First, such a
construction would permit detention which will not satisfy the requirements
of necessity and proportionality. To put it simply, if there is no reasonable
prospect of removal, the necessity for detention of that duration is
not at all apparent, meaning that it is disproportional to the end being
sought. Proportionality and necessity are not obscure international
law principles. The requirement that detention be limited to what is
necessary to achieve the purpose of exclusion, deportation or admission
is at the heart of Lim.  Moreover, the
Chief Justice of the High Court has recently indicated, in extra-curial
remarks, that the principle of proportionality is becoming increasingly
influential in Australian law. 
- The construction
contended for by the appellant would preclude curial consideration of
such matters and would therefore avoid the associated requirement that
the State should not continue to detain a person beyond the period for
which it can provide appropriate justification.
- Finally, that
construction would seriously diminish the detainee's right to take court
proceedings challenging the lawfulness of his or her detention. The
indirect "challenges" envisaged by the Minister would not
allow a Court to determine the core issue of the "lawfulness"
of the detention in question and do not allow for the possibility of
ordering release where detention is "unlawful" ("lawfulness"
and "unlawfulness" are here used in the wider sense discussed
in the passage from A v Australia extracted above). That involves
a breach of paragraph 4 of article 9.
section 196(3) should not be given a construction which is inconsistent
with article 9 of the ICCPR.
35. The requirement
that the State should not continue to detain a person beyond the period
for which it can provide appropriate justification also weighs in favour
of a conclusion that the Minister bears the burden of establishing the
facts which the Act makes a condition of the power to detain. That burden
arises when a person adduces evidence putting in issue the legality of
their detention.  There should be no requirement
that that material be sufficient to make out a prima facie case. 
For, as the Minister observes, it may be that in matters such as the present
the material upon which lawfulness turns will be contained in sensitive
records of intergovernmental negotiations. The Executive is best placed
to demonstrate to the Court (making such confidentiality arrangements
as are necessary) that that material justifies ongoing detention.
36. At paragraphs
33-40 of his submissions, the Minister criticizes Merkel J's use of comparative
authorities.  Those criticisms appear to assume
that the principles underlying those decisions are peculiar to their particular
statutory contexts. Those principles are in fact manifestations of long-standing
common law protections of broad application. Both in Australia and in
other common law jurisdictions, those protections have been held to require
clear words before legislation will be construed as removing a fundamental
right or freedom. The relevant principles were discussed by Mason CJ,
Brennan, Gaudron and McHugh JJ in Coco v The Queen: 
on express authorization of an abrogation or curtailment of a fundamental
right, freedom or immunity must be understood as a requirement for some
manifestation or indication that the legislature has not only directed
its attention to the question of the abrogation or curtailment of such
basic rights, freedoms or immunities but has also determined upon abrogation
or curtailment of them. The courts should not impute to the legislature
an intention to interfere with fundamental rights. Such an intention
must be clearly manifested by unmistakable and unambiguous language.
General words will rarely be sufficient for that purpose if they do
not specifically deal with the question because, in the context in which
they appear, they will often be ambiguous on the aspect of interference
with fundamental rights. [See Lim at 12 per Mason CJ.]
. . .
on a clear expression of an unmistakable and unambiguous intention to
abrogate or curtail a fundamental freedom will enhance the parliamentary
process by securing a greater measure of attention to the impact of
legislative proposals on fundamental rights.
37. It is apparent
that the comparative jurisprudence discussed by Merkel J represents a
specific application of those principles or variants of them. By way of
example, in Lam the Privy Council discussed the Hardial Singh
principles in the following terms:
Subject to any
constitutional challenge (which does not arise in this case) the legislature
can vary or possibly exclude the Hardial Singh principles. But in their
Lordships' view the courts should construe strictly any statutory provision
purporting to allow the deprivation of individual liberty by administrative
detention and should be slow to hold that statutory provisions authorise
administrative detention for unreasonable periods or in unreasonable
38. There has been
some academic and extra-curial discussion of how a Court should identify
those rights that are fundamental.  That is perhaps
less of an issue in these proceedings as the right to personal liberty
has been recognised as "the most elementary and important of fundamental
law rights".  To similar effect, in Re Bolton;
ex parte  Beane, Brennan J stated:
The law of this
country is very jealous of any infringement of personal liberty (Cox
v. Hakes (1890) 15 App Cas 506, at p 527) and a statute or statutory
instrument which purports to impair a right to personal liberty is interpreted,
if possible, so as to respect that right: R. v. Cannon Row Police
Station (Inspector) (1922) 91 LJKB 98, at p 106. . . . The Constitution
of the Australian Commonwealth does not contain broad declarations of
individual rights and freedoms which deny legislative power to the Parliament,
but the courts nevertheless endeavour so to construe the enactments
of the Parliament as to maintain the fundamental freedoms which are
part of our constitutional framework. It is presumed that that is the
intention of Parliament, though the courts acknowledge that the balance
between the public interest and individual freedom is struck not by
the courts but by the representatives of the people in Parliament. Unless
the Parliament makes unmistakably clear its intention to abrogate or
suspend a fundamental freedom, the courts will not construe a statute
as having that operation.
to the extent that the scope of that right may require some more precise
identification, regard may be had to established common law doctrines
(which can be discerned from the decisions of both Australian and overseas
Courts) and international norms, which:
[i]n a world of
would seem to offer an identifiable landfall
Use of the corpus
of international law to identify fundamental rights is supported by the
principle that international treaties ratified by Australia constitute
a "legitimate influence" upon the development of the common
law.  Indeed, the High Court has stated that international
instruments like the ICCPR give expression to fundamental human rights
which are taken for granted by Australian society, in the sense that those
rights are valued and respected here as in other civilized countries.
40. The fundamental
rights that emerge from the comparative authorities cited by Merkel J
may be distilled as being rights not to be detained:
periods or in unreasonable circumstances. 
In discerning what
is reasonable for the purposes of the fundamental right so articulated,
it is permissible and appropriate to have regard to the notions of necessity
and proportionality in international law. The application of those principles
to the construction of section 196(1) and 198 were discussed above.
41. The comparative
authorities cited by Merkel J also disclose a general antipathy towards
administrative detention, which might be characterised as a right not
to be detained other than as punishment, as an incident of the judicial
process, for a breach of the law of the land.  Again,
international law manifests similar concerns regarding administrative
detention, which may be used to confirm and clarify that fundamental right.
42. What the Minister
must demonstrate is an "unmistakable and unambiguous" intention
to curtail those fundamental rights in the manner suggested. Such an intention
might be found to exist if, for example, Parliament had expressly provided
that the power to detain would not be affected by the fact that there
was no reasonable prospect of removal. No such provision is to be found
within the Act.
43. Section 196(3)
does not disclose such an intention.  As was noted
by Beaumont J in NAMU v Secretary, Department of Immigration, Indigenous
and Multicultural Affairs,  that provision leaves
untouched the ability of Courts to determine the lawfulness of any detention.
Section 196(3) merely confirms that, until the limits of lawfulness are
reached, a Court may not order release of a person detained under sections
189 and 196. Any wider construction raises validity issues.
44. Moreover, contrary
to submissions of the Minister, Hardial Singh and Lam are
not relevantly distinguishable for the following reasons:
- The fact that
the legislation considered by Woolf J in Hardial Singh provided
for discretionary powers of detention (or, in the case of a person already
detained, a duty to detain subject to a dispensation) 
appears to have played no part in his Honour's approach to the construction
of the power to detain. Such matters may have been relevant had his
Honour adopted a construction whereby the power to detain imposed upon
the "Executive a duty to exercise a measured discretion in its
use".  However, it is apparent that his Honour
was simply considering the limits of the powers in question. Moreover,
as noted above, the absence of similar safeguards in relation to the
detention scheme provided for by the Act gives greater significance
to other limits upon the power.
- Similarly, there
is no indication in Woolf J's judgment that his Honour placed any significance
upon the fact that the detention power dealt specifically with a situation
in which a deportation order was in force.
- The words "pending
his removal" which appeared in the legislation considered in Lam
are in substance identical to the words "until he or she is
from Australia" (which appear in section 196).
45. As regards Zadvydas
v Davis,  United States Courts have applied
the Zadvydas doctrine to "inadmissible aliens". 
That is because, although influenced by the due process clause in the
American Constitution (which applies only to those persons who have effected
an "entry" to the United States), the Supreme Court in Zadvydas
dealt with the construction of the statute in question, which made
no distinction between "inadmissible aliens" as opposed to other
aliens subject to removal or deportation. Indeed, the majority's characterisation
of the limitation upon the power to detain in Zadyvdas pointedly
uses the term "alien" without specifying particular categories
of aliens to whom the doctrine applies.  In other
words, the doctrine in Zadvydas, appears to reflect a more general
and fundamental concern, going beyond constitutional limitations, regarding
the indefinite detention of aliens. The Commission similarly submits that
the constitutional context and the principles of construction derived
from other sources should lead this Court to conclude that the power to
detain under consideration in this matter is subject to the limitations
Principle of legality
46. The House of
Lords has looked to the rule of law as the basis for what has been termed
a "principle of legality", which is a strong presumption that
the words of a statute are subject to fundamental human rights so as to
enforce minimum standards of fairness, both procedural and substantive.
 In Secretary of State, Ex Parte Simms, 
Lord Hoffman expressed that principle as follows:
means that Parliament can, if it chooses, legislate contrary to fundamental
principles of human rights.
The constraints upon its exercise
by Parliament are ultimately political, not legal. But the principle
of legality means that Parliament must squarely confront what it is
doing and accept the political cost. Fundamental rights cannot be overridden
by general or ambiguous words. This is because there is too great a
risk that the full implications of their unqualified meaning may have
passed unnoticed in the democratic process. In the absence of express
language or necessary implication to the contrary, the courts therefore
presume that even the most general words were intended to be subject
to the basic rights of the individual. In this way the courts of the
United Kingdom, though acknowledging the sovereignty of Parliament,
apply principles of constitutionality little different from those which
exist in countries where the power of the legislature is expressly limited
by a constitutional document.
47. While that principle
may be more broadly expressed than the Australian requirement for clear
words to extinguish fundamental rights and liberties, it is plainly related
to that requirement.  However, it appears that their
Lordships view the principle as an "assumption" rather than
a "presumption",  meaning that it is more
readily applied and less easily displaced. Like the principles of statutory
construction discussed above, the principle of legality enhances rather
than detracts from parliamentary processes by ensuring that Parliament
clearly articulates its intention to derogate from fundamental rights
(including those guaranteed by international instruments).
48. The development
and application of the principle of legality should be seen as part of
a broader trend, in which English Courts have come to see themselves as
a significant element amongst the protective mechanisms provided for by
the ECHR. Prior to the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998
(UK), English Courts accepted the proposition that the ECHR had not been
incorporated into domestic law.  Nevertheless, those
same Courts have had close regard to the obligation upon the United Kingdom
to provide an effective remedy for breaches of the ECHR 
in expanding and protecting domestic common law and statutory remedies
dealing with fundamental human rights.  Australia
has similar obligations under article 2(3) of the ICCPR to provide effective
domestic remedies for breaches of fundamental human rights. 
49. Understood in
that context, it is unsurprising that in determining and characterising
the rights which attract the benefit of the principle of legality, the
House of Lords has given close consideration to the United Kingdom's international
human rights obligations. In particular, their Lordships have had regard
to the obligations of the ECHR, which are largely said to be reflected
in the common law.  As noted above, the High Court
has similarly indicated that international human rights instruments give
voice to rights which are fundamental to Australian society. It has also
held that grounds for review of administrative decisions 
and other important procedural and substantive rights 
are rooted in or closely related to fundamental human rights.
50. For the reasons
discussed above, the Minister's proposed construction of the power to
detain infringes upon rights and protections recognised as fundamental
in both international and domestic law. Such a construction is not mandated
by the express words of the section or by necessary implication. This
Court should, in those circumstances, apply the principle of legality
(or some similar principle or rule) and assume or presume that Parliament
did not intend to take such a drastic step via the use of general words.
Neil Williams SC
Lim at 33-34
Indeed, the passages from Lim relied upon by the Minister at paragraph
30 of his submissions of 24 September 2002 focus upon these very matters:
see Lim at page 33 per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ and at page 74 per
Lim at 29
Lim at 30; Attorney-General v Cain  AC 542 at 543; Koon Wing Lau
v Calwell (1949) 80 CLR 533 ("Koon Wing Lau") at 555-556
Lim at 10 per Mason CJ, and 32 per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ.
See Lim at 10 per Mason CJ, 26-32 per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ and
65-6 per McHugh J.
See section 253(9) of the Act.
 FCA 1009 at 
(2000) 98 FCR 371
See Lim at 33, per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ
"Officer" is broadly defined in section 3 of the Act to include,
inter alia, officers of the Department, members of the Australian Federal
Police or the police force of a State or an internal or external territory
and other persons given written authorization by the Minister.
Goldie v Commonwealth of Australia (2002) 188 ALR 708 per Gray and Lee
JJ at -.
Heard by this Court on 17 September 2002 in Melbourne, decision reserved.
See  of Merkel J's reasons.
Acts Interpretation Act 1901, s15AB(2)(a).
See at 34 per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ, with whom Mason CJ and Gaudron
See paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Minister's submissions.
Lim at 33 per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ
That is "the removal of the removee from Australia is 'reasonably
practicable', in the sense that there must be a real likelihood or prospect
of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future".
See paragraphs 22-23 of the Minister's submissions.
See eg Tan Te Lam v Superintendent of Tai A Chau Detention Centre 
AC 97 ("Lam").
See eg Ruddock v Vardarlis (2001) 183 ALR 1.
Corporation of the City of Enfield v Development Assessment Commission
(1999) 199 CLR 135 at 158 per Gaudron J.
See paragraph 26 of the Minister's submissions.
Jumbunna Coal Mine NL v Victorian Coal Miners' Association (1908) 6 CLR
309 at 363; Lim at 38 per Brennan, Deane and Dawson JJ. See also Maxwell
on the Interpretation of Statutes (7th Ed, 1929) at 127; Pearce, Statutory
Interpretation In Australia (5th ed. 2001) at [5.14].
See eg Brown v Classification Review Board (1998) 154 ALR 67 at 78 per
French J; Secretary of State, Ex Parte Simms  2 AC 115 at 130 per
Lord Steyn, 131 per Lord Hoffman. Even if the principle is confined to
ambiguous statutory provisions, the concept of 'ambiguity' in this context
is construed broadly: Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh
(1995) 183 CLR 273 at 287.
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273
at 287 per Mason CJ and Deane J. See also Kartinyeri v Commonwealth (1998)
195 CLR 337 at 384 per Gummow and Hayne JJ; Spigelman, 'Access to Justice
and Human Rights Treaties' (2000) 22 Sydney Law Review 141 at 149.
The UNHRC is the United Nations human rights treaty body created under
article 28 of the ICCPR. Amongst other things, the UNHRC hears complaints
submitted by individuals under the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. While
the decisions or 'views' of the United Nations human rights treaty bodies
are not binding on this Court, Australian courts and tribunals give weight
to the views of specialist international courts and the human rights treaty
bodies established to supervise implementation by States parties of their
obligations under the provisions of particular human rights treaties.
See, as examples of references to the jurisprudence of human rights treaty
bodies by Australian courts: Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1
at 42 per Brennan J (with whom Mason CJ and McHugh J agreed); Dietrich
v The Queen (1992) 177 CLR 292 at 307 per Mason CJ and McHugh J; Johnson
v Johnson (2000) 174 ALR 655 at 665 para  per Kirby J; Commonwealth
v Bradley (1999) 95 FCR 218, per Black CJ at 237; Commonwealth v Hamilton
 108 FCR 378 per Katz J at p387, paragraph .
Van Alphen v The Netherlands UNHRC 305/88.
See S Joseph "The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights"
2000 OUP at 217.
(1996) UN Doc CCPR/C/79/Add.70.
The Working Group was established by resolution 1991/42 of the Commission
on Human Rights, which extended and clarified its mandate in resolution
1997/50. The Working Group is composed of five independent experts appointed
following consultations by the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights.
Like the UNHRC, the Working Group has an individual complaints procedure
and publishes "decisions" or "opinions" on the website
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (http://www.unhchr.ch). Although
not a treaty body like the UNHRC, the Working Group is similar to the
Committee of Experts appointed by the Governing Board of the International
Labour Organisation, upon whose views Katz J relied in Hamilton at 387.
See also Black CJ in Bradley at 237, .
533 US 678 (2001). The opinions of the Working Group in those complaints
appear in a document entitled "Opinions adopted by the Working Group
on Arbitrary Detention" E/CN.4/2001/14/Add.1 9 November 2000 at page
38 (opinion no. 33/1999) and 42 (opinion no 34/1999).
See at pages 41 and 45.
See paragraph 21 of the Minister's submissions.
See paragraph 26 of the Minister's submissions.
M Gleeson "Global Influences on the Australian Judiciary", paper
presented to the Australian Bar Association Conference in Paris, 8 July
2002, published at www.highcourt.gov.au/speeches. See also, for application
of the principle of proportionality to constitutional matters, Commonwealth
v Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1 at 260 per Deane J, Nationwide News Pty Ltd
v Wills (1992) 177 CLR 1 at 29-32 per Mason CJ and Leask v The Commonwealth
(1996) 187 CLR 579. Note also that Deane J suggested, in Australian Broadcasting
Tribunal v Bond (1990) 170 CLR 321 at 367, that proportionality might
be a separate ground for judicial review of administrative action.
See Re Chung Tu Quan & Ors  1 HKC 566 at 583; affirmed in Lam
Compare with the Minister's submissions at paragraph 42.
In particular, R v Governor of Durham Prison ex parte Singh (1984) 1 All
ER 983 ("Hardial Singh") and Lam.
(1994) 179 CLR 427 at 436-437, see also at 446 per Deane and Dawson JJ.
See also Potter v Minahan (1908) 7 CLR 277 at 304; Re Bolton; Ex parte
Beane (1987) 162 CLR 514 at 523; Bropho v Western Australia (1990) 171
CLR 1 at 18.
Lam at 111.
See eg J Kirk "Constitutional Guarantees, Characterisation and Proportionality"
(1997) 21 MULR 1; The Hon Justice Ronald Sackville "Continuity and
Judicial Creativity - Some observations" (1997) 20(1) UNSWLJ 145;
Sir Anthony Mason "Judicial Review" at pp38-61 in "The
Brennan Legacy" R Creyke and P Keyzer (eds) Federation Press (2002).
Trobridge v Hardy (1955) 94 CLR 147 at 152 per Fullagar J.
(1987) 162 CLR 514 at 523; see also Deane J at 532 and Gaudron J at 547.
See also Papazoglou v Republic of the Philippines (1997) 74 FCR 108 at
Sir Anthony Mason , op cit, p43. See also the Hon Justice Ronald Sackville,
op cit, page 162 and J Kirk, op cit pp45-47.
Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1 at 42 per Brennan J (with whom
Mason CJ and McHugh J agreed); Dietrich v The Queen (1992) 177 CLR 292
at 306-07 per Mason CJ and McHugh J, at 319-321 per Brennan J, at 360
per Toohey J; Environment Protection Authority v Caltex Refining Co Pty
Ltd (1993) 178 CLR 477 at 499 per Mason CJ and Toohey J; Minister for
Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273 at 288-289 per
Mason CJ and Deane J. See also Saadi and Ors v Secretary of State for
the Home Department  4 All ER 961 where the Court of appeal stated
(at -): "We started this judgment by remarking that it was
artificial to consider English domestic law and the Human Rights Convention
separately. The Human Rights Act has made the Convention part of the constitution
of the United Kingdom, but the Convention sets out values which our laws
have reflected over centuries. The need, so far as possible, to interpret
and give effect to statutory provisions in a matter which is compatible
with Convention rights is now a mandatory discipline, but it is not a
The policies that have constrained, and still constrain,
the exercise of the statutory power to detain aliens who arrive on our
shores do not result from any conscious application of Article 5 of the
Convention. They result from a recognition, that is part of our heritage,
of the fundamental importance of liberty. The deprivation of liberty with
which this appeal is concerned falls at the bottom end of the scale of
interference with that right. It is right, nonetheless, that its legitimacy
should have received strict scrutiny."
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273
at 305 per Gaudron J; R v Swaffield; Pavic v The Queen  HCA 1 at
 per Kirby J.
See Lam at 111.
Ibid. See also Lim at 27-8
See, by way of example, the UNHRC's concluding comments on the Ukraine
(1995) UN Doc CCPR/C/79/Add.52, condemning the "administrative detention"
of vagrants. See also the concluding comments on Switzerland extracted
Cf the Minister's submissions at paragraph 37.
 FCA 907
See paragraph 36(b) of the Minister's submissions.
See the approach of Baragwanath J in Refugee Council of New Zealand Inc
and others v The Attorney General (No 2), unreported, High Court Auckland,
M1881-AS01, 18 June 2002 at .
533 US 678 (2001)
See Xi v US Immigration and Naturalisation Service 298 F.3d 832 and Borrero
v Aljets 178 F.Supp.2d 1034. Compare with the Minister's submissions at
"In our view, the statute, read in light of the Constitution's demands,
limits an alien's post-removal-period detention to a period reasonably
necessary to bring about that alien's removal from the United States.
It does not permit indefinite detention" (at 689).
R v Home Secretary; Ex Parte Pierson  AC 539 at 591 per Lord Steyn.
 2 AC 115 at 131.
See NAAV v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
 FCAFC 228 at  per French J.
Pierson, op cit, at 587 per Lord Steyn.
See Brind v Secretary of State for the Home Department  1 AC 696.
The introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 has altered that position
with many, but not all, of the rights conferred by the ECHR now guaranteed
by that legislation.
That obligation is set out in article 13 of the ECHR which provides: "Everyone
whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated
shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding
that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official
See R v Khan  3 All ER 289 at 298 per Lord Nolan; Rantzen v Mirror
Group Newspapers (1986) Ltd and others  QB 670 at 686 per Neill
LJ; R v Secretary of State for the Home Department; ex parte Launder 
3 All ER 961 at 988 per Lord Craighead, with whom the other Law Lords
agreed; R v Ministry of Defence, Ex Parte Smith  QB 517 at 555-6
per Bingham MR (with whom Henry and Thorpe LJJ agreed).
Article 2(3) states: "Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
(a)To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized
are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the
violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;(b)To
ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto
determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities,
or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of
the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; (c) To
ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when
See Pierson  AC 539 at 587 per Lord Steyn; Simms  2 AC 115
at 125-6 per Lord Steyn, 131-32 per Lord Hoffman.
See Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Ex parte Miah
(2001) 75 ALJR 889 at  per McHugh J and at  per Kirby J, both
of whom there referred to the fact that the Act implements Australia's
international obligations as a reason for concluding that the rules of
procedural fairness had not been excluded. Similarly, in Suresh v Canada
(Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) 2002 SCC 1 at , the Supreme
Court of Canada indicated that Canada's international obligations will
be relevant when determining what procedural protections will be required
to be made available to a person at risk of deportation.
By way of example, in Carter v Nothmore Hale Davy & Leake (1995) 183
CLR 121 at 161, McHugh J accepted that legal professional privilege is
'a practical guarantee of fundamental constitutional or human rights'.
updated 20 May 2003.