In July 2019, the Immigration Minister declined to consider granting the applicant a visa.
The man filed proceedings seeking damages for false imprisonment from July last year and an order that he be released immediately.
Federal Court Justice Mordecai Bromberg ruled in the man’s favour and he was released from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia on Friday.
Justice Bromberg said the man had been unlawfully detained since July 26 last year. His removal from Australia “has not been undertaken or carried into effect as soon as reasonably practicable … because no steps at all have been taken to remove the applicant to Syria, the country of his nationality”.
Alison Battisson, director principal of not-for-profit law firm Human Rights for All, acted for the Syrian man. Her client had now been released in Australia on no visa, but was not an Australian citizen.
He was released on a writ of habeas corpus, a centuries-old protection against unlawful detention.
Ms Battisson said the case was “hugely significant” for immigration detainees in a similar position, particularly long-term detainees “where nothing has happened on their cases for years”.
“They have a very similar potential claim,” Ms Battisson said. “It could be scores of people, if not more.”
The man had served time in prison for offences committed as a teenager but had spent more years in immigration detention. He had a “hugely supportive partner and family” in Australia, Ms Battisson said, and it did not make sense to keep him in detention.
Damages for false imprisonment will be determined by the court at a later date.