The Federal Court of Australia has voted not to overturn the Government’s decision which has denied citizenship rights to baby Ferouz, who was born in a Brisbane hospital. Ferouz’s family were fleeing persecution as members of the Rohingya minority group from Myanmar (Burma). His mother was pregnant with him at the time of their arrival, but according to the new laws from July 19, they were denied the right to claim protection visas.
The Rohingya remain stateless and face ongoing violence. Additionally, those living in overseas refugee camps are living in appalling conditions and denied education. The situation for the Rohingya is so bad that the United Nations calls it a “crime against humanity.”
The Australian Federal judge Michael Jarrett thinks women in detention may otherwise seek to get pregnant in detention to grant their babies citizenship. Here’s the facts: Australia’s asylum seekers are being held in detention for years in appalling conditions. It’s unreasonable to hold people for so long in limbo, denying them human rights, including the right to continue their family relationships.
The Australian Human Rights Commission recently oversaw a public hearing on the treatment of children in detention centres and found that the conditions of detention are exactly like “a prison,” contributing to poor mental health. Instead of addressing these conditions and abolishing the unethical detention program, our Government is now denying Australian children citizenship rights.
The Liberal Government’s “Operation Sovereign Border” policies, which has radically scaled back our refugee aid and intake, and the so-called “Stop the Boats” campaign, are predicated on a false notion that unauthorised boat arrivals cannot be fruitfully accommodated within society. Arrivals by boats have always been significantly lower than unauthorised arrivals by plane. In fact the biggest immigration issue we face are migrants who overstay their visa; but as they are mostly from developed nations the Government does not see it fit to launch military operations to contain them.
Australia has a long history of resettling asylum seekers within the community, rather than keeping them indefinitely in detention or sending them for processing offshore. These programs stretch back to the resettlement of Jewish refugees during World War II and various waves of asylum seekers from every continent from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. A large proportion of these arrivals came by boat and yet many are now thriving, as sociology research shows that the children of refugees have gone on to become highly educated professionals, especially those from South East Asian and European backgrounds.
The latest ruling by the Federal Court will deny human rights to a further 100 Australia-born children. Women and children face additional hurdles as refugees that our nation should attend to, including education, safety and health. Rather than scaling back our international obligations as a developed nation, Australia should demonstrate compassion and adhere to the refugee convention set out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Image and story via SBS News.