Court date sought to release Australian-born baby from detention

16 June 2014
Lawyers will today head to court again for the next round in the fight to release an Australian-born baby from detention.

Maurice Blackburn Associate Murray Watt said a final hearing date would be sought today for baby Ferouz, an eight month-old boy, born in Brisbane last year.

Baby Ferouz's parents came to Australia after fleeing persecution by the brutal military regime in Myanmar. Ferouz and his family are currently in detention in Darwin.

"This is an important test case, and will decide whether a child who is born in Australia, is entitled to apply for refugee status, if the child's parents came here by boat," Mr Watt said.

"The Federal Government rejected Ferouz's refugee application, arguing that he came to Australia by boat.

"This is ridiculous - he was born in Brisbane's Mater Hospital, where I and my own two children were born.

"The real issue is that Ferouz should not be in detention at all - in our view, he is entitled to apply for Australian citizenship, yet he is forced to live behind razor wire in Darwin.

"Unfortunately, the Government has not even considered Ferouz's citizenship application, seven months after it was lodged.

"Since his birth, Ferouz and his family have been subjected to appalling treatment by the Australian Government - he was separated from his mother whilst still in hospital as a newborn, his family narrowly escaped removal to Nauru and they were then whisked away to Darwin, thousands of kilometres from their legal, medical and personal support.

"Since arriving in Darwin, the family and their relatives have been subjected to lengthy and intimidating interviews by the Immigration Department, without their lawyers even being told, let alone present.

"These secret interviews completely contravene the Department's own policies, as well as assurances the Department gave to the High Court that the family's access to legal representation would not be hindered if they were transferred to Darwin.

"Despite all of this and the indisputable fact that Ferouz was born in Brisbane, the Australian Government continue to fight this family, knowing full well that there is no way they can ever safely return to Myanmar.

"As always, the Minister can at any time grant Ferouz refugee status, Australian citizenship and release him and his family from detention.

"We will continue to fight this case for as long as it takes, including seeking a hearing date today to have these matters fully heard by the court as soon as possible," Mr Watt said.

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