Refugee Moz Azimitabar takes the government to court

A refugee is suing the federal government in court seeking compensation for the time he spent in hotel detention.

Moz Azimitabar, who was detained offshore and in Australia for eight years, will take part in a two-day hearing in Victoria to challenge the legality of hotels as alternative places of detention (APOD).

Melbourne Federal Court heard on Tuesday that tinted windows, limited access to sunlight and fresh air, restricted movement and the presence of guards made these sites habitable, with Azimitabar’s legal team arguing that the Immigration Minister had no authority to approve hotels used as detention centers on land in the first place, according to age.

“Taking on this responsibility to those I love helps me try to figure out how to live as a human in this world,” Azimitabar wrote in the Guardian tuesday. “I don’t want anyone to shut me up. I am alive and I have rights. I’m a survivor. What the government did was illegal, and I will never give up.

The Kurdish man was sent to Manus Island in 2013 for six years after fleeing conflict in Iran, before being brought to Australia under Medevac laws in 2019 for emergency medical treatment, where he was locked up in two hotels for 15 months. He was eventually released from the Park Hotel in Melbourne – which was also temporarily detaining Novak Djokovic – back in January on a restricted visa.

“The government used the hotel as a prison to lock me up and the situation made me even sicker. My body shakes when I think of the times I was in those hotels,” he said on The project. “Certainly it was worse than Manus Island. I was locked up…I spent 23 hours a day in a room,” he said. “I was transferred to Australia for medical treatment and received no proper medication.”

“The Federal Court case will argue that Moz’s detention at the Mantra Hotel and then at the Park Hotel where he was transferred for medical treatment was unlawful under the Migration Act because the government n ‘has no legislative authority to turn these hotels into detention centers in this manner,’ explained Amnesty International Australiawhich helps in the case of Azimitabar.

“If the court rules in favor of Moz, the same legal argument applies to anyone who has been or is currently being held in an APOD,” they said. “While Moz cannot seek relief on behalf of others in this case, the government should apply the consequences of the court’s decision more broadly.”

The case started on ninth birthday of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announcing that asylum seekers arriving by boat would have “no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees”. More than a hundred refugees are currently being held in an APOD to this day.

Photo credit: Mostafa Azimitabar/Twitter

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