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Asylum seeker family lose appeal to stop transfer to Darwin
Saturday | 05/04/2014 - 11:23 AM
Asylum seeker family lose appeal to stop transfer to Darwin
Latifar with Ferouz, after she was transferred from Nauru to give birth in a Brisbane hospital. Photograph: Refugee Action Coalition/AAP

Rohingya News Agency‏ ‏‎–(The Guardian):‎ A Rohingya family whose child was born in detention have lost a last-minute court appeal to prevent the federal government from transferring them to Darwin, away from the baby’s doctors.

The family, who have been in Brisbane while baby Ferouz who was born with respiratory problems received medical attention, will now be transferred to a Darwin centre on Saturday morning, after the high court in Brisbane rejected an application to stop it.

The Immigration Department argued that “there are other families in Nauru who need to come to Brisbane who need medical treatment and that this family didn't need to stay in Brisbane as much”, said the lawyer acting for the family, Murray Watt from Maurice Blackburn.

“We acknowledge that … but there was very little evidence presented by the minister as to why those other families couldn’t go to other facilities in Australia.”

In October last year, Guardian Australia revealed that 31-year-old Latifar was being held in the Nauru offshore processing centre while pregnant and suffering from diabetes. Her husband and their child were also detained with her. The couple – both from Burma’s Rohingya Muslim minority – fled Burma more than 10 years ago.

After serious concern was expressed by doctors, Latifar and her family were transferred to mainland detention and baby Ferouz was born in Brisbane’s Mater hospital. Ferouz was born with respiratory problems needing round-the-clock medical care, but his mother was sent back to detention and it was claimed they were separated for up to 18 hours a day. An internal immigration department review later found these claims to be false.

In November the family and the Immigration Department reached an out-of-court agreement which stopped them being returned to Nauru before Ferouz was well.

Throughout a months-long battle to keep the family in Australia, lawyers have argued that Ferouz is entitled to the same rights as any Australian born in the country, as his parents were effectively stateless at the time of his birth in Brisbane, giving the infant a claim to citizenship.

Ferouz’s protection visa was rejected on the grounds that he arrived by boat, Watt told Guardian Australia, which the family’s lawyers are still challenging.

“We still think that baby Ferouz has got a very strong case that he has the right to apply for a protection visa and citizenship,” said Watt.

On Wednesday, the family was told they would be transferred to a Darwin centre the following day, but the legal team from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers secured a two-day extension.

“For the government to forcibly transfer Ferouz and his family now, after everything they have been through, is beneath contempt,” said Watt in a statement on Friday morning prior to the hearing.

“Not only was Ferouz born in Brisbane; he and his family are now settled here in the local detention centre. Their doctors are based in Brisbane, as are their legal team, they have legal proceedings due to be heard in Brisbane this month – yet minister Morrison wants to move them thousands of kilometres away, against their wishes.

“Ferouz and his family are human beings, like you and I, who have already been through more than anyone should have to endure. At any time, minister Morrison can step in and do the right thing, by granting Ferouz and his family protection in Australia.”

Morrison’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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