28 May 2019
Airport Searches and Your Rights
While on the subject of airports, if you have ever been asked by an Australian Border Force officer to submit to a search of some kind (your person and/or your belongings) when travelling into or out of the country, you may have wondered about your rights.
This was the topic of a recent discussion on ABC Radio Brisbane and it confirmed what many travellers have suspected – that, in fact, the rights of travellers have diminished and the range of powers of Border Force or immigration officers have increased over the past few years.
The Customs Act gives officers the power to search any suitcase, device or documentation, including electronic documents and photos on mobile phones and other personal electronic devices. An individual who refuses to comply with a request for examination of their electronic device may have that device held until an officer is satisfied that the item does not present a risk.
Moreover, reasons for any on the spot searches do not need to be provided by officials. National security considerations are the over-riding justification, supported by legislation.
Anecdotally, Ajuria Lawyers has become aware of searches of personal electronic devices being undertaken to determine whether visa holders have complied with visa conditions. For example, email correspondence or LinkedIn and social media apps may reveal that an individual has worked in Australia, even though their visa did not permit work.
DISCLAIMER This information is current as of 28 May 2019 and subject to change. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.