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01 February 2002
The Australian High Court has upheld the Australian Government’s decision in September to prevent 433 asylum seekers rescued by a Norwegian cargo ship, from entering Australia. This verdict involves Australia’s Executive and Judiciary both turning their back on hundreds of years of international maritime law. In centuries past such treatment was not even meted out to soldiers and sailors of hostile powers in time of war.
Australia has also passed border protection laws which are effective retrospectively. Such retrospective legislation is commonly used by dictatorships but seldom by democracies (although the EU is also known to do this from time to time).