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Issue #1747      September 7, 2016

Nauru Fathers’ Day hijack

The National Justice Project has condemned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for organising a squad of police to forcibly remove refugee children and their family from Papua New Guinea where they had been seeking medical treatment. George Newhouse, the Principal Solicitor at the NJP, said that the family were from Iran and arrived on Christmas Island in September 2013 and were then transferred to Nauru.

“As Australian families gather to celebrate Fathers’ Day we should remember what our government is doing to other fathers and to other families. This case is just one more shameful episode in this government’s treatment of those who seek our protection,” he said. The National Justice Project has been working with Doctors for Refugees to secure proper medical care and treatment for this family for months in the face of the Australian government’s stubborn refusal to act.

Mr Newhouse added, “We are talking about a 12-year-old child who broke his arm more than a year ago. He was operated on but is in dire need of post-operative care and rehabilitation. His hand and arm are becoming deformed as he grows. His sister is 11 and developed a range of mental health issues and severe skin diseases due to the conditions on Nauru. Both these children need intensive and urgent medical care.

“All their father is asking for on this Fathers’ Day is the same medical care and attention that any father would seek for his kids.” Doctors for Refugees have advised that the risks to the family members have been identified and known to the Department of Immigration for at many months. The Department has failed to act and the situation is now urgent.

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, was recently met the family in Port Moresby said, “The boy’s arm needed corrective surgery months ago. He already suffers pain in his arm and has considerable loss of movement in his wrist and fingers. The treatment of this family confirms that the prevailing culture of mistreatment graphically revealed in the leaked Nauru files goes right to the top of the Immigration department.”

Newhouse said that “Instead of caring for them they were arbitrarily arrested by the PNG Police yesterday and forcibly returned to Nauru where their medical conditions cannot be properly treated. The law states Peter Dutton owes this family a duty of care. He is clearly in breach of that duty, and we intend to act”, said Mr Newhouse.

The National Justice Project is a not-for-profit legal organisation. We combine strategic legal action with effective advocacy to advance human rights and social justice in Australia and in the Pacific Region.

Next article – On its 50th anniversary – Close Pine Gap

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