AWP17 v Department of Immigration and Border Protection

6 St James Hall's public law barrister Madeleine Bridgett, led by James Emmett, 12 Wentworth Selbourne Chambers, appeared pro bono for the Applicant who is currently held in an offshore processing centre, instructed by the National Justice Project. The urgent interlocutory injunction was heard by the Federal Court of Australia's Nicholas J on 2 March 2017. The injunction, which was granted, sought to, inter alia, prevent the Commonwealth from withdrawing, or ceasing, to support and provide services to the Applicant.

Niger Delta Child Rights Watch Project

In 2011-2012, Madeleine Bridgett joined the Niger Delta Child Rights Watch (NDCRW) project, an initiative by Stepping Stones Nigeria and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales to raise the capacity of Nigerian child rights NGOs to document, investigate and monitor cases of child rights abuse across the Niger Delta, report such cases to the relevant authorities, and secure successful prosecutions of offenders. The project also provides direct emergency support to children who have suffered abuse, including medical care, food, educational support and counselling.

In her role as an intern representing the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Madeleine provided dedicated legal case management support to the NDCRW project partners on documentation, monitoring and follow-up of child abuse cases with the aim of supporting domestic prosecutions.

Madeleine also undertook advocacy to assist the government with the implementation of the 2003 Child Rights Act at a local and national level. The project brought about important achievements which included the first prosecution of a child abuse case at a Family Court in Cross River State. 

The NDCRW project brings together organisations from different States in the Niger Delta: Basic Rights Counsel Initiative (Cross River State), Stepping Stones Nigeria Child Empowerment Foundation (Akwa Ibom State) and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (Rivers State).

For more information:

In re Abyan and Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Kate Eastman SC and reader Alexandra Rose appeared for "Abyan", a 23-year-old pregnant Somali woman, who alleged she was raped on Nauru, and who was flown out of Australia by the Department of Immigration, in an October 2015 application to the Federal Court of Australia, instructed by George Newhouse, Special Counsel, Shine Lawyers.

Related articles:

Lateline - 16/10/2015: Interview: George Newhouse, Special Counsel, Shine Lawyers

In re Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste

Darren Fittler and the case for Braille ballot papers

In 2008, Kate Eastman, acting pro bono, instructed by the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, successfully argued that the New South Wales Electoral Commission had discriminated against a blind man, who was not able to cast a secret ballot in Braille during the 2004 local government elections.

Fittler v New South Wales Electoral Commission and anor (No.2)  [2008] NSWADT 116



Children in migration detention

A 2004 High Court case raised the public interest issue of the mandatory detention of children in migration detention. Kate Eastman, instructed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, led by Felicity Hampel SC, acted pro bono for Amnesty International Australia, which was granted leave to file written submissions as an amicus curiae (‘friend of the Court’).

The case related to the welfare of children in immigration detention and Australia’s international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC). Amnesty International submitted, among other things, that the Family Court had jurisdiction to determine the welfare of children in immigration detention in Australia, including the power to release them from detention. This, it was argued, was the result of the incorporation into Australian law of CROC, which prescribes that the detention of children, except in very limited circumstances, is a violation of Australia’s human rights obligations.

The High Court ruled that the Family Court of Australia does not have the power to order the release of children from immigration detention. The Court found that the provisions of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) were clear and unambiguous, providing for the mandatory detention of both adult and children unlawful non-citizens and that the jurisdiction of the Family Court, provided for in the more general provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), could not override these provisions. Justice Kirby, while not required to come to a conclusive decision on this issue, stated that it was strongly arguable that Australia’s detention of children was in breach of international law.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs v B & B [2004] HCA 20