Djokovic case exposes unfair treatment of refugees in Australia: Refugee Council

Photo- @DjokerNole

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 11 January 2021: The Novik Djhokvic case has been in the headlines for some days. The World No 1 in Tennis was till yesterday holed up in detention in a hotel with longtime detained refugees. He got a reprieve with his canceled visa restored by a court. The Immigration Minister can still revoke it. But the issue has highlighted the way Australia treats refugees. The issue got prominence as the Djhokvic saga became news worldwide.

The Refugee Council of Australia, the peak body to support refugees, says the “Djokovic case exposes unfair treatment of refugees in Australia”.

In a media statement today, Paul Power CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia comes down heavily on the Australian Government for its refugee policies.

“Novak Djokovic’s detention and subsequent speedy appeal process contrasts starkly with the ongoing and prolonged inhumane treatment of refugees in Australia’s migration system.


Refugees seeking asylum in Australian airports don’t even get access to lawyers before they are put on the next flight out of Australia, let alone a chance to argue their case.

Djokovic, on the other hand, had access to a team of lawyers who were able to lodge an urgent injunction preventing him from being deported.

Refugees don’t have access to review or procedural fairness, whereas Djokovic arrived on January 5 – and by January 10 had had his case heard and appeal granted.

UN Special Rapporteur for Migration, Felipe Gonzalez succinctly exposed the horrible double-standard suffered by refugees who arrive in Australia, exercising their internationally-recognized legal right to seek sanctuary from dangerous situations.”

Gonzalez said on Twitter: “Novak Djokovic, who is neither a migrant or an asylum-seeker, got what human rights organizations have repeatedly asked Governments for migrants and asylum-seekers: that deportations should be suspended until a judicial decision is issued.”

Refugee supporters outside the Park Hotel. Photo: Jacob Andrewartha/

Djokovic was detained in Melbourne’s Park Hotel, alongside refugees whom the Australian Government has kept in detention for over nine years.

Djokovic could have voluntarily left detention and returned home at any stage. But refugees detained by Australia have fled war and persecution – they cannot go home unless they want to put themselves and their families in extreme danger.

Indefinite, arbitrary detention is a violation of international human rights law, yet Australia continues this practice without serious repercussion.”

“It is disappointing that it has taken the detention of a tennis player to highlight Australia’s ongoing practice of mandatory detention on the world stage.

The people detained alongside Djokovic have not committed any crime, nor had their visa cancelled. They have been detained indefinitely simply for seeking asylum in Australia.

The worst that was ever going to happen to Djokovic is that he wouldn’t get to play tennis. The stakes are life and death for the refugees with whom he was briefly a neighbour, ” he said.

Neeraj Nanda

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