'Unjust, unfair and unwise': refugees slam laws push

Former detainee Mustafa Nikqadam is afraid he might be deported back to Afghanistan where he risks being killed by the Taliban, under laws proposed by the Albanese government.

Labor in March tried to push the Migration Act amendment through parliament which would impose a minimum one-year minimum prison term and up to five years behind bars for people who refuse to cooperate with the government over their deportation.

It would also give the Home Affairs minister unilateral power to ban visa classes for relatives of asylum-seekers from blacklisted countries that don't accept the deportees.

People from Iran, Iraq, Russia and South Sudan have been floated as possible targets of the ban but no exhaustive list has been released by the government.

The coalition, Greens and Senate crossbench blocked the legislation and sent it to a committee due to report back on May 7.  

Greens Senator David Shoebridge said it was a "cruel and ill-thought piece of legislation".

"Who seriously thinks that Vladimir Putin is quaking in his boots about what the immigration minister of Australia will do and that will have some serious impact on some cruel regimes like Russia or Iran takes to the return of their own citizens?"  he told reporters on Thursday alongside Mr Nikqadam and refugee community representatives.

Greens Senator David Shoebridge
Greens Senator David Shoebridge describes the legislation as "ill-thought".

Mr Nikqadam is a 28-year-old painter and wrestling coach in Sydney from the minority Hazara Shias who spent eight years in detention on Nauru.

He said he felt targeted and stressed by the legislation, adding to his precarious status as a bridging visa holder.

If deported Mr Nikqadam is afraid he would be targeted by the notorious Taliban regime who killed his father and swept back to power in Afghanistan in 2021.

"When I'm driving and I'm always looking around and I feel different,'' he told AAP.

"I feel am not like other people because they are happy, they are free and when I look at myself I'm still hurting."

Sudanese-Australian immigration lawyer Eva Abdelmessiah said designating certain countries such as South Sudan under the remit of banned countries was discriminatory.

"The Labor government comes to a broken immigration system and it wants to break it even further. It is unjust, unfair and unwise," she said.

The Human Rights Law Centre described the bill as "Trump-style discrimination" on the basis of nationality which Senator Shoebridge agreed with and said was more politically dangerous.

"It's almost as though Labor read ... Trump's policy of effectively a Muslim ban... and wanted to apply in Australia only without constraints," he said.

"This bill allows for the direction powers to be extended to anybody who is not a citizen, who is on any visa including permanent residency."

About 20 submissions, including from Amnesty International and several disapora groups, have been lodged ahead of a Monday senate committee hearing. 

Debate over the laws come ahead of a High Court decision involving an Iranian citizen known as ASF17 who has made a legal bid for freedom.

The man is seeking to have an earlier High Court ruling, that indefinite immigration detention was illegal for those who could not be returned to a third country, also cover detainees who refuse to co-operate with their deportation.

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