4 Feb 2016

Calls for Turnbull to intervene for asylum seekers

11:09 am on 4 February 2016

The lawyer for a group of asylum seekers in Australia who face imminent return to Nauru after a High Court ruling is calling on the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene.

Refugee Asylum Seekers children take part in protest on Nauru

Refugee children take part in protest on Nauru Photo: supplied

On Wednesday, Australia's highest court threw out a challenge to the lawfulness of the country's offshore detention of asylum seekers.

The judgement opens the way for Canberra to send 267 people - including 37 babies who were born in Australia, a five-year-old boy who was allegedly raped at a detention centre, about 50 other children, and women who were sexually abused - back to Nauru.

The asylum seekers' lawyer, Daniel Webb, who is from the Human Rights Law Centre, said the government still has discretionary power to let the asylum seekers stay.

"Well I think if the [immigration and border protection] minister is unmoved by the plight of these 37 babies and these 54 children, then it is up to the prime minister to intervene. I mean, we are talking about 54 children who are in our schools right now."

Australian paediatrician David Isaacs said the appalling suffering would continue.

"The impact on the families is atrocious. We've got women who have had their babies delivered here, we've got some children and adults in Australia because they've needed medical or mental health help and so we're returning them, to what for them is a hell hole, what is torture.

"It's not safe for them, they're petrified there... these are horrible situations for people on Nauru.

"We need a public outcry on this, we need people to say it's not ok."

Mr Isaacs worked as a paediatrician at a detention centre on the island and said the conditions asylum seekers lived in were horrible.

"They're called by their boat numbers not by their name...as if that's ok.

"They're hidden away in a black hole. It's our Guantanamo."

It is not known when the government intends to send the 267 asylum seekers back to Nauru, but by law, they will get 72 hours notice from the government of deportation.

Australia's Government responds to the High Court judgement.

New Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his Cabinet on 20 September 2015.

Malcolm Turnbull Photo: Getty Images

The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said he will carefully examine the implications of the High Court judgement backing his Government's tough line on asylum seekers.

But he said his Government is resolute in protecting Australia's border.

"If we want the capacity to bring in refugees from Syria 12,000 additional refugees from persecuted minorities then we need a strong border protection regime and this government will stand steadfast in protecting the border."

The Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, said he will not send the children of asylum seekers back to detention camps in Nauru if they would be in danger there.

The Australian Government will look at cases individually according to Mr Dutton..

"There will be medical advice that's provided and we will look at how the individual cases. I have given assurance I am not going to send children back into harm's way."

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Photo: AFP

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