Gabrielle Holly, ‘Challenges to Australia’s Offshore Detention Regime and the Limits of Strategic Tort Litigation’

Australia’s offshore detention regime has been the subject of numerous attempts to seek accountability for harm caused to detainees using legal and other avenues in Australia. This Article examines recent strategic litigation actions against the Australian government and the corporate contractors engaged in offshore detention, including: Kamasaee v Commonwealth; AUB19 v Commonwealth; and actions seeking injunctions requiring the Australian government to airlift detainees to Australia for medical treatment. While these actions have vindicated the rights of those in offshore detention in specific ways, and in some instances facilitated compensation for harms caused while in detention, none have proved capable of challenging the underlying basis of the offshore detention regime, nor of providing a foreseeable end to the detention, whether by facilitating credible prospects for resettlement, or by other means. The Article provides an account of the achievements and limitations of these claims and concludes that although certain features of the Australian jurisdiction make it possible to pursue transnational claims, and thus potentially provide remedy for those who have suffered wrongs in Australia’s offshore detention regime, such claims need to be pursued with the utmost care and with careful consideration of the complexities of the Australian political and legal environment.

Holly, Gabrielle, Challenges to Australia’s Offshore Detention Regime and the Limits of Strategic Tort Litigation (February 28, 2020). German Law Journal 21(3), 2020.

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