Government urged to reconsider asylum baby case

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The immigration minister is being urged to consider granting a newborn and his asylum seeker family protection visas as the case plays out in court.


The case of a baby born in Brisbane to refugees from Myanmar returned to the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on Thursday.

Baby Ferouz was born in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital this month after his diabetic mother was brought from Nauru for the birth, along with her husband and two other children.

Lawyers for the family of five are seeking an injunction to prevent their return to Nauru without “procedural fairness”, that is, without family members being able to present independent medical evidence.

The lawyers also want to prevent the family’s removal before it can be determined if Ferouz is entitled to Australian citizenship.

Lawyers for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison were granted a third hearing on Thursday to argue the case can only be determined in the High Court because it involves “unauthorised maritime arrivals”.

Judge Margaret Cassidy said she would give a decision about jurisdiction on Friday afternoon.

Maurice Blackburn associate Murray Watt, for the asylum seeker family, said Mr Morrison can intervene to help the family, including by granting them protection visas.

“He can step in at any moment to do that and then this whole legal action would go away,” Mr Watt told reporters.

“But rather than doing that the Commonwealth continues to stall and continues to bring this before the court.

“I’d encourage the Commonwealth to really reflect on its position about that especially in the wake of some of the things we’ve seen in the public debate this week.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delivered a scathing report on living conditions in the Nauru detention centre this week, finding the facility was inappropriate for children.

And Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly told a Sydney audience on Wednesday night that in Ferouz’s case Australia must remember “justice has to be tempered by mercy”.

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