The Right to Health and Immigration Detention: What are Australia's Obligations?

Alana Bonenfant

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


In an increasingly connected world, COVID-19 has people around the world isolating and staying home. But what if that home is an immigration detention centre? In March 2020, a guard at an Australian immigration detention facility tested positive for COVID-19. A group of detainees from across immigration detention centres have written to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, pleading to be released into the community on health grounds and a case has been brought in the High Court requesting compassionate release for immigration detainees under the circumstances. Reportedly, more than 300 detainees have been released in the UK for reasons relating to the pandemic. So, what are Australia’s obligations?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed steps which individuals can undertake to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including physical distancing measures such as only leaving the house for essential errands and maintaining 1.5 metres of space between all persons. Are these measures possible in immigration detention? If not, does this constitute a breach of the right to health?
Original languageEnglish
JournalILA Reporter
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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