The federal government has lost its appeal against a court ruling that allows immigration detainees to keep their mobile phones.
The Federal Court threw out the appeal in Sydney on Thursday, upholding its injunction and preventing Immigration from seizing detainees’ phones.
After the decision, the National Justice Project’s principal solicitor George Newhouse said if the government was concerned about access to phones it should separate convicted criminals from other detainess.
“The blanket removal of phones is part of the process of criminalising asylum seekers and this government ongoing policy of punishment and cruelty towards them,” Mr Newhouse said.
“Peter Dutton claims that the use of mobile phones is linked to criminal behaviour but asylum seekers are not criminals. Mobile phones are a life line to the outside world that enables them to maintain their sanity and communicate with their families, thr loved ones, the community and their legal representatives.”
Immigration Minister Dutton gave notice of the appeal in early April after the Federal Court granted an injunction in February to stop Australian Border Force guards from confiscating phones from all detainees.
Earlier this year, Mr Dutton told 2GB radio the population in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre had changed.
“We’ve dramatically increased the number of visa cancellations of outlaw motorcycle gang members and criminals,” he said.
“So the population within the detention centre now is predominantly people that have committed crimes, that are being deported because of the crimes that they’ve committed, and so we’re dealing with a more hardened population than what we had before.”
The Minister was approached for comment.