The United Nation Human Rights Committee has asked the Australian government to release a young Tamil family being held in detention on Christmas Island.
The family has made headlines for months as their case for asylum has seen Australian immigration authorities attempt to deport them.
Sri Lankan parents Priya and Nadesalingam and their two young children, Kopika and Tharunicaa, had their lives uprooted in late August when a sudden deportation order was issued by Australian immigration. They had lived in a Melbourne immigration detention centre since March 2018.
Both Priya and Nadesalingam arrived in Australia by boat and were denied asylum seeker status, and their plight to remain in the country has made headlines for weeks as entire communities rally around the family.
The family-of-four were nearly deported following the expiration of their bridging visas. A last-minute court injunction saw them dramatically removed from a plane in Darwin before being sent to Christmas Island and placed in detention.
Their lawyer, Carina Ford, has been working to contest the deportation order placed upon their 2-year-old daughter Tharunicaa. Despite being born in Australia, Tharunicaa has been deemed an “unauthorised maritime arrival” under the Migration Act.
“The committee… has requested the State party to transfer [the family] within 30 days into a community setting arrangement or to find another way to end their existing situation of detention,” reads a letter from the UN received by Ford.
The letter from the UN comes after an application was made to the Human Rights Committee on September 27.
Ford told The Guardian that there had been an effort to see an alternative arrangement for the family other than being contained.
“There’s nowhere for them to go, it’s not like you can escape from Christmas Island and go somewhere else,” she said.
“It seems unnecessarily heavy.”