A small group of men stand in a hotel hallway, holding handmade signs asking 'Free us before COVID19 kills us'. One man creates heart symbol with his hands.

Refugee, Moz Azimitabar, challenges legality of 14 months in detention in Melbourne prison hotels

Kurdish-Iranian refugee, Mostafa (Moz) Azimitabar, who was detained offshore and in Australia for almost eight years, is seeking compensation from the Australian Government for his unlawful 14 month detention in two Melbourne-based hotels.

The case before the Federal Court will argue that Moz’s detention in the Mantra Hotel for 13 months and then the Park Hotel was unlawful under the Migration Act as the Government does not have the legislative power to turn such hotels into Alternative Places of Detention (APODs).

Michael Bradley, managing partner at Marque Lawyers, representing Moz, said: “According to our reading of the Migration Act the Government does not have the power to establish and maintain detention centres in hotels and therefore Moz’s detention for more than a year in the Mantra and the Park Hotel was unlawful.”

Moz was released from the Park Hotel on a temporary final departure visa earlier this year, however his time locked up in the hotels where he was unable to go outside, exercise properly or even open a window, compounded by six years trapped on Papua New Guinea, have taken a terrible physical and emotional toll.

There are still many asylum seekers and refugees, medically transferred from PNG and Nauru in 2019, trapped today in similar prison hotels across Australia.

Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International refugee adviser, said: “Amnesty International is supporting Moz with his legal case against the Commonwealth of Australia. Moz’s detention in the Mantra Hotel and Park Hotel, after he was transferred from Papua New Guinea to Australia in 2019 on medical grounds, was, we believe, unlawful under the Migration Act. Today, there are many more people still being detained in APODs across Australia. The mental anguish they have endured is inexcusable. This suffering must come to an end and we need to ensure it never happens again.”