CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s highest court ruled Tuesday that the government can’t deport aboriginal people as part of its policy of ridding the country of foreign criminals.
The High Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that indigenous Australians cannot be deported even if they do not hold Australian citizenship.
Lawyers welcomed the legal recognition of the original Australians’ unique place in a country that was claimed by Britain in the 18th century without a treaty.
The Australian government was assessing the ruling’s implications on immigration policy.
The court had heard the case of two men who were born overseas but identified as being from indigenous tribes: Brendan Thoms and Daniel Love.
Thoms, 31, was released after 501 days in immigration detention within hours of the court ruling that his indigenous status entitled him to live in Australia.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the Home Affairs Department would review other cases that might be affected by the precedent.
The court found that Thoms, who was born in New Zealand to an indigenous Australian mother, was an aboriginal Australian.
Thoms has lived in Australia since he was 6 and is accepted as a member of the Gunggari tribe.
But a majority of judges was not convinced that Love, 40, was indigenous and had been accepted as a member of the Kamilaroi tribe.
Print Headline: Australia ruling: Aborigines stay