8 Dec 2017

Australia forces refugees to make tough choices, advocate

6:57 am on 8 December 2017

A refugee advocate says Australia is forcing refugees on Nauru to make impossible choices between their families and their freedom.

The Guardian reports that Australian Border Force officials use family separation to coerce refugees into returning to Nauru or abandoning protection claims.

The Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul said the case of Arash Shirmohamadi, who was told he must relinquish custody of his Australian-born child in order to apply for resettlement, shows refugees are being placed in impossible circumstances.

"For that effectively to be snatched out from underneath you by requiring that you would need to sign some independent form separating your case from your child or your spouse, it's bewildering, the kind of human cruelty that is involved in forcing people to make that kind of decision," he said.

Mr Rintoul said other families on Nauru have also been split apart by Australia's unwillingness to resettle refugees but they are afraid to speak out.