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Separating the facts from the politics: Update on Baby Asha’s case

Separating the facts from the politics: Update on Baby Asha’s case

23 February 2016

Access

Last night was the first time in three days that the HRLC legal team had been allowed to speak with our client. HRLC’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said that it was unusual and unreasonable that access be so restricted.

“It’s been a difficult and confusing few days for this family. For three days straight Asha’s mother had been asking to speak with us and we had been asking to speak with her, but Border Force blocked access without reason.

“It’s a matter of basic fairness and due process under the rule of law in this country that vulnerable people can speak with their lawyers. We hope the government shows greater respect for these principles in the future,” said Mr Webb.

High Court case

“A week ago we had to file an urgent case in the High Court to stop Baby Asha from being secretively deported to Nauru.

“She had been secretively deported once before. When Asha was 5 months old, around 15 guards stormed her family’s room while they were sleeping. They took her from her mother’s arms and restrained her mother and father with cable ties. They forced the family into a van, then onto a plane to Nauru. That’s a horrible thing to go through once – we had to take urgent action in the High Court to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

“An urgent hearing scheduled for last Tuesday morning was vacated after the government said there was no current plan to deport the family to Nauru and that they would give us 72 hours’ notice if that changed. We got the promise from the government we had been seeking and now the case is on hold,” said Mr Webb.

Attacks against Baby Asha’s mother

The HRLC has reviewed medical records from the Lady Cilento Hospital which confirm that there is no evidence that Baby Asha’s injuries were anything other than an accident.

“Last night was this family’s first night of freedom in two and a half years. It’s incredibly sad that they have to wake up to such hurtful things being said about them. Asha’s mother will be really confused and upset.

“The politics around all of this is obviously very toxic but the government really needs to get some perspective. This family should not be secretively maneuvered around the place, hidden from lawyers and support networks and then publicly attacked for short-term political advantage. We are talking about a vulnerable child who deserves what every child in the world deserves – a chance at a decent life somewhere safe.

“Baby Asha has never experienced freedom. She took her first steps in a tent on Nauru. She spoke her first words in a tent on Nauru. Enough is enough – it’s well and truly time to stop punishing this child,” said Mr Webb.

 

For media enquiries, please contact:
Tom Clarke, HRLC Director of Communication via email at tom.clarke@hrlc.org.au or on 0422 545 763.