At least 18 refugees have been released from Australian immigration detention centres, according to the Resource Center for Asylum Seekers.
Earlier reports suggested 20 refugees had been cleared from detention centers in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
A spokesperson for the CURC said it was able to confirm 18 people were released late Friday evening, although the number could be higher.
Half of the refugees were released from Melbourne’s Park Hotel, the spokesperson said, while the others were from the Brisbane Immigration Transit Authority and Villawood Immigration Detention Center in Sydney.
The Home Office declined to confirm the reports, with a spokesperson saying it would not comment on individual cases.
The ASRC says there are more than 30 refugees still in Australian detention centres.
Nearly 230 refugees have been released from detention centers on land since December 2020.
CURC Advocacy Director Jana Favero said the government released the refugees from detention in a “chaotic and secretive” manner.
“After nine years of being held against their will for no reason, those released deserve so much better,” she said in a statement.
“The mental and physical health impacts of being held in a detention center are long-lasting and require ongoing protection and access to general social support.”
It comes three weeks after the release of 13 refugees from detention centers in Melbourne and Brisbane.
At the time, lawyers said nine men had been released from the Park Hotel, along with another at Broadmeadows and three men in Brisbane.
The Park Hotel detainee, Iranian refugee Mehdi Ali, was also resettled in the United States last month, after nine years in detention.
The Park Hotel came to national attention in January when tennis champion Novak Djokovic was briefly detained there.
Djokovic was eventually deported on the eve of the Australian Open after the Federal Court upheld the Immigration Minister’s decision to revoke his visa.
Australian Associated Press