New laws passed in Parliament this week could result in refugees being forced to choose between indefinite detention or returning to the country they fled from, a human rights group has warned.
The amendment to the Migration Act, which passed both houses on Thursday, aims to prevent refugees and asylum seekers from being forced to return to countries where there is a risk of persecution or serious harm.
But the laws also provide the minister discretion to overturn a detainee's refugee status and provide no mechanism for those affected to avoid indefinite detention in the country's onshore and offshore centres.
Human Rights Law Centre legal director David Burke slammed the new legislation, calling on the government to repeal the power it grants them to potentially lock people up for the rest of their lives.
"This [law] forces refugees into an unthinkable choice between spending potentially decades in immigration detention, or agreeing to go back to a country where the Federal government recognises they will be persecuted," Mr Burke said.
"These new laws allow the Morrison government to warehouse people who have nowhere else to go."
Around 30 per cent of people held in immigration detention centres around the country have been detained for more than two years - an increase of ten-times in nine years.
The average time detainees spent in immigration centres increased to more than 600 days by the end of 2020.
The new law marks one of the first pieces of legislation new Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has passed in the role.
Mr Burke argued the system needs more oversight to protect those affected by the limbo the system places them in.
"The minister should not be able to waive a pen and overturn the fundamental protection the government has given someone whose life is at risk," Mr Burke said.
"Government decisions about who is detained, on what grounds and for how long, are matters that need more oversight, not less.
"We urgently need changes that do more than forcing people to choose between languishing in immigration detention or being forced back to harm."
Minister Andrews' office has been approached for comment.
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