Lawyers for asylum seeker baby Ferouz say visa Bill deprives babies of right to seek permanent protection

25 September 2014
Lawyers representing asylum seeker baby Ferouz, whose family is a persecuted minority group in Myanmar, are concerned about today’s Federal Government announcement on visas for asylum seekers.

In November 2013, Maurice Blackburn issued proceedings on behalf of baby Ferouz, whose application for a permanent protection visa was denied on the basis he was deemed to have arrived in Australia by sea - despite the fact he was born in an Australian hospital.

The social justice law firm, which is currently fighting for the rights of baby Ferouz and 95 other babies born in Australia, says the proposed legislation would take away the rights of babies in detention to seek permanent protection.

“The Bill classifies babies born in Australia to asylum seeker parents as unauthorised maritime arrivals, and retrospectively invalidates any application made for babies such as Ferouz for a permanent protection visa,” said Katie Robertson, an associate at the firm.

“Our fight for baby Ferouz and his family is currently before the courts. But if this Bill is passed before the Court gives its judgment, Ferouz will be unable to apply for a permanent protection visa regardless of the judge’s decision.

“This Bill effectively pulls the rug out from under the feet of this family.”

The law firm has also launched a class action on behalf of injured asylum seekers on Christmas Island. Ms Robertson said significant physical and psychological damage has already been done to many of those in detention on Christmas Island, and this continues while they remain in detention.

“Proposals to give asylum seekers temporary visas and transfer them from Christmas Island to the mainland, while welcome, mask an alarming attempt to sweep through a number of damaging measures.

“It appears the government is using the plight of asylum seekers on Christmas Island as a political bargaining chip, to push through a number of dangerous reforms that will have a disastrous and long term impact on the rights of asylum seekers in this country.“

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