High Court Rules Aboriginal People Cannot Be Deported for Criminal Convictions

Australia’s High Court has said Aboriginal people cannot be deported- even if they are not citizens.

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The case involves an appeal by two men who were born overseas but have Aboriginal heritage, to be deported over their criminal record. The Morrison government had been trying to deport two Indigenous men for the crimes they committed in Australia.

Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms have had their permanent resident visas cancelled as a result of serving time in jail. Both men were born overseas, with at least one of their parents an Indigenous Australian citizen had moved to Australia as children but never applied to become citizens.

However, under Australian laws, foreigners or aliens must lose their right to live and work in the country if they are sentenced to a year or more in prison.

“Aboriginal Australians could not be classed as ‘aliens’ under the law,” said the lawyers of the men.

Australia’s conservative government had decided to class both men as foreigners and deport Love to Papua New Guinea and Thoms to New Zealand.

The ruling created “a new category of person” under law, neither an Australian Citizen under the Australian Citizen Act, nor a non-citizen.’

According to Pedestrian TV, lawyers argued “Aboriginal Australians have a special cultural, historical and spiritual connection with the territory of Australia, which is central to their traditional laws and customers and which is recognised by the common law.”

Mr love is a recognised member of the Kamilaroi people but born in Papua New Guinea, while Mr Thoms was born in New Zealand and also lacks Australian Citizenship, belongs to the Gunggari people.

Due to a 4 to 3 split decision, Australia’s High Court ruled that the men must be treated as citizens and can therefore remain within Australia. The outcome of this case is that Aboriginal people, regardless of where they are born, will have protection from deportation.

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