Sirul's days as a free man may be numbered as Australia passes new detention laws for stateless convicts

SYDNEY: Australia has passed new laws allowing former immigration detainees to be locked up again if they pose any risk of committing serious offences after they were released in a landmark ruling by the country's top court.

Reuters reported that under the new laws passed by the Parliament late on Wednesday, a court can order the detention of the most serious offenders where they pose the risk of committing serious violent or sexual offences.

"This legislation establishes a robust preventative detention and community safety order regime that is modelled on the existing high-risk terrorist offender scheme," Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said in a statement.

The High Court of Australia ruled last month that an unnamed and stateless Rohingya man held in immigration detention after serving time for child sexual offences was being unlawfully detained as no country had agreed to resettle him so there was no real prospect he could be deported.

The ruling led to the release of several offenders, among them refugees and stateless people, who were similarly unlikely to be deported and faced indefinite detention.

Since the court's ruling on Nov. 8, four people who were freed have been charged with fresh offences, media reported.

The Labor government had to rush through the new laws on preventive detention following concerns about releasing violent offenders into the community as the opposition and government lawmakers clashed over the ramifications of the court ruling.

Along with preventative detention, the new law also allows authorities to enforce targeted restrictions like curfews, electronic monitoring devices and strict visa conditions.

The latest development may see former Malaysian police officer Sirul Azhar Umar, who was convicted over the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Sharibu in 2006, recaptured and sent back to detention if he is seen as one of those deemed as a threat to Australian society.

According to a report published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Sirul was mentioned as one of the most notorious criminals freed among 148 individuals released by the High Court in November.

Last month, the Australian government, with the support of the opposition passed new rules that required former detainees to be fitted with ankle bracelets and abide by night-time curfews.

Sirul was among those required to wear an electronic monitoring device to allow the Australian authorities to monitor his whereabouts following his release on Nov 8.

He left Malaysia for Australia in 2015 after filing an appeal against the decision in the Federal Court. A five-judge panel had unanimously upheld his death sentence over Altantuya's murder.

He had been detained by Australian authorities, but he could not be sent back to Malaysia due to the country's policy of not repatriating individuals facing the death penalty in their home country. — Reuters

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