Commissioners call for compassionate decision on Tamil family

The Commission welcomes the release of the Murugappan family from closed immigration detention on Christmas Island into community detention.

However, this decision does not resolve the Tamil family’s long-term future. The Commission reiterates its long-held call for a compassionate consideration of the family’s visa situation in Australia.

“Keeping children in closed immigration detention can almost never be justified under international human rights law,” said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

“We welcome the announcement of this Tamil family’s reunification in Australia. The human rights of this family, and especially their young children, are better protected by housing them in the community on the mainland.

“However, the decision by Minister Hawke does not resolve the family’s long-term future. In these particular circumstances, we consider the exercise of Ministerial intervention is necessary and appropriate to ensure a compassionate resolution for this family.”

National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said, “Australia must act in the best interests of these young children – their wellbeing and their human rights must be top of the list in any decision-making.

“It’s time to show compassion and allow them the chance to grow up in the only community they have ever known – a community that cares for them.”

Priya and Nadesalingam and their two daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, who were both born in Australia, have spent more than three years in immigration detention in Melbourne and Christmas Island.

The circumstances of this family are a troubling example of the human rights issues faced by people in Australia’s immigration detention framework.

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