CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Three murderers are among 81 foreigners recently released in Australia after the High Court ruled their indefinite detention in migrant centers was unconstitutional, the immigration minister said on Tuesday.
The court hasn’t released the reasons behind its ruling last week that overturned a 2004 precedent that stateless people could be detained indefinitely.
The Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Center reported last month that 127 people had been detained more than five years. The average was 709 days.
Australia’s center-left government had argued against the release of the foreign and stateless detainees whom Australia does not want to resettle and other countries are reluctant to accept.
Opposition lawmakers called them “hardcore criminals” and accused the government of endangering the public by releasing them.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the released foreigners included three murderers and several sex offenders. He offered to give deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley a breakdown later of how many had been convicted of sex crimes.
“The decision of the High Court which requires release effects very, very serious offenders,” Giles told Parliament.
One of those convicted of murder is Sirul Azhar Umar, a former police officer who was sentenced by a Malaysian court in 2015 to be hanged over the death of a Mongolian woman whose body was dismembered with military-grade explosives.
The 50-year-old had fled to Australia before he was sentenced in absentia and had been held in detention for nine years until the High Court decision last week. Australia cannot extradite anyone to a country where that person could face capital punishment.
Details of the other two convicted of murder were not available.
Ley highlighted the case of Afghan-born Aliyawar Yawari, whom she described as a “violent sex predator who attacks elderly women in their home.”
The 65-year-old moved into a motel in the west coast city of Perth after being released from detention, The Australian newspaper reported.
He was convicted of multiple offenses against three women between October 2013 and December 2014, the newspaper reported.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the people who had been released had been subjected to stringent visa conditions and some were required to report to police daily.
“Some of these people have committed disgusting crimes,” O’Neil told Parliament.
“Some of them have hurt people who are still here in our country and it is those victims that we care about,” she added.
The High Court case decided last week was brought by a member of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, identified in court as NZYQ, who was convicted of raping a 10-year-old boy in Sydney and sentenced to five years in prison. He went to indefinite immigration detention after prison.