Canberra: The High Court of Australia on Tuesday ruled that Aboriginal people hold a special status and cannot be deported for criminal convictions from the country.
The court voted 4-3 that Aboriginal Australians were not subject to the “alien” powers in the constitution, which enables the deportation of dual citizens who have committed “serious” crimes, reports Xinhua news agency.
The precedent set by the ruling means nobody with indigenous Australian heritage can be deported from the country.
Two indigenous men who were born overseas but moved to Australia as children, Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms, have been facing deportation after serving jail sentences.
Love, who was born in Papua New Guinea, served more than a year in jail for assault and Thoms, born in New Zealand, served 18 months for domestic violence.
Lawyers for the men argued in court that indigenous people cannot be “alien” to Australia and thus could not be deported.
One of their lawyers, Claire Gibbs, told reporters outside the High Court on Tuesday that their case was not about citizenship but was instead about “who is an Australian national and who is a part of the Australian community”.
The Justices of the High Court, however, stopped short of clearing Love entirely — saying in their ruling that they could not be certain of his Aboriginality based on the evidence presented in the case.