Australian-born babies in detention win transfer reprieve

17 April 2014
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have welcomed an undertaking overnight that the Immigration Department will not transfer 26 Australian-born babies to offshore detention until their right to remain in Australia is determined in a similar test case.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Jacob Vargehese said the undertaking was a significant win for the families, who are currently in detention on Christmas Island.

"What this means is that for now, these families at least have some certainty they won't be taken overnight to either Manus Island or Nauru with little or no notice while the case of baby Ferouz remains underway," Mr Varghese said.

"That is a fair approach, the case of baby Ferouz is an important test case seeking to establish that babies born in Australia to asylum seeker families are not 'unauthorised maritime arrivals' - they were born in Australian hospitals and they deserve the protection of the Australian Government, they do not belong in detention.

"Unfortunately this reprieve only applies to the families we are acting for, there are still many other families with young babies currently in detention who do not have that certainty and remain very concerned they could be transferred to offshore detention at any time. While we are pleased to have achieved this result for our 26 clients, we would like to see the Minister extend the promise to all babies born in detention.

"The Minister has always had the ability, not just in the case of baby Ferouz but also for these other families, to step in at any time and do the right thing in offering the protection of the Australian Government - and we continue to hope he will do this.

"If he refuses, then we will continue to fight these cases for as long as it takes, starting with baby Ferouz's application for a protection visa.

"The UN has described Nauru as inhumane and not fit for children, and the reality is a detention centre is no place for young babies or children.

"We are determined to keep fighting for the rights of these children and their families to be offered a fair go," he said.

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