Baby Released From Detention
Tuesday, 20th January 2015 at 11:05 am
In a rare backdown on border control from the Abbott Government, a baby that has spent its entire life in detention has been released.
Lawyers for baby Ferouz, who has been detained for more than 14 months since being born in Brisbane to Burmese parents, announced that he had been released along with other relatives.
Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate, Murray Watt said the family were now staying with relatives in Melbourne.
“This is a very significant moment for Ferouz and his entire family,” Watt said.
“This opportunity has been a long time coming: Ferouz has spent every night since leaving hospital living in detention and now finally, after more than a year he has been released, along with his parents and siblings, to join relatives living in Melbourne.
“For Ferouz’s parents in particular this is very special, they have never stopped fighting for a fair go for their children in seeking a better life and they are now finally able to start making that a reality.”
The Federal Court had previously ruled to uphold the Australian Government’s decision that the infant was an “unauthorised maritime arrival” like his parents, despite being born in Brisbane.
Wyatt said Ferouz was not alone in being released from detention.
“We understand that other Australian-born babies and their families have also been released from detention over the past few days, with details to be confirmed,” he said.
“Detention centres are no place for babies and children, and it is disappointing that it took the Australian Government more than a year to also come to this realisation for Ferouz and so many other families, who like Ferouz have spent many months locked in detention.
“This is a great moment, and would never have happened without a long legal fight with the Federal Government, and the support of many in the Australian community.”
Wyatt said the family, who are part of Burma’s minority Rohingyan community and fled persecution, would live in Melbourne while their claims for protection visas were assessed.
“Being released from detention is only the first step for these families,” he said.
“Whilst they have been granted bridging visas for now, they must also apply for temporary protection visas to remain in Australia.
“We must also remember that, while the release of these children is a good thing, around 555 children remain in detention, including 135 in the inhumane conditions of Nauru.”
Meanwhile the Refugee Council of Australia (ROCA) warned that it could only be a matter of time before another death occurred in an Australian-run detention centre.
RCOA Chair, Sonia Caton, said recent protests on Manus Island were at risk of getting out of control.
“While there is insufficient information coming from either the Papua New Guinean or Australian Governments about what is happening within the detention centre, the combination of indefinite confinement, extreme concern about safety and uncertainty about their future has undoubtedly contributed to the unrest,” Caton said.
“This is a critical situation that requires immediate intervention and a reversal of these unjustifiable and damaging policies. It is deeply traumatising to the people detained and damaging to Australia’s reputation. The Manus Island detention centre is a human rights and financial sinkhole.
“The Australian Government must act urgently to end offshore processing before another devastating death occurs.
“In its dogged determination to ‘stop the boats’ and deny asylum seekers arriving by boat any opportunity to settle in Australia, the Government has cultivated a culture of secrecy to shield the public from the cruelty of its policies. These policies are endangering the lives of people Australia should be protecting.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said those protesting on Manus Island were being “irresponsible”.
“A number of transferees have regrettably engaged in aggressive behaviour over the weekend at the Manus Regional Processing Centre and that protest action is ongoing,” Dutton said.
“The failure of this group to cease their disturbing actions is irresponsible – rather than protesting peacefully, they have chosen a disruptive path.
“This behaviour is irresponsible and not only puts service provider staff in danger, but also other transferees.
“Transferee threats to staff will not be tolerated by service providers, nor will action to coerce other transferees into protesting.
“Transferees are not being refused food and water – the actions of some transferees are actively preventing the delivery of food, water and medical services to others who are not participating in the protest. Water has not been "cut-off" – water supply continues to meet the needs of the Centre.
“I urge transferees – and anyone advocating this behaviour – to cease their aggressive actions and allow service providers to enter compounds and provide services especially to those not participating in protest activity.”