UN calls for Tamil family’s release
The United Nations has urged the government to release the Tamil family being held in detention on Christmas Island while they mount a court battle against deportation.
Priya and Nades Murugappanand and their daughters Kopika, four, and Tharunicaa, two, remain detained despite the Federal Court last month deciding their case should be heard.
The court ordered an injunction against their deportation until a new hearing examines their situation.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has refused to move the family to mainland Australia, with officials reportedly telling them to adjust to conditions on Christmas Island.
The UN Human Rights Committee has now called on the Government to release the four "within 30 days into a community setting arrangement or to find another way to end their existing situation of detention".
The family's lawyer Carina Ford received a copy of the correspondence yesterday, SBS reports.
The Government is holding firm, resisting calls from supporters of the family - including the central Queensland community of Biloela - to allow them to stay in Australia.
Last month, Mr Dutton insisted they were being treated well on Christmas Island and were free to move about the community rather than being locked up.
But speaking with Sky News through an interpreter, Priya lashed out at Mr Dutton's claim the family was "not in detention" but living close by the centre with access to a school and swimming pool.
She blasted this claim as a "complete lie".
"There is a school and swimming pool nearby but we are kept inside the detention centre. We can't go outside this compound and we are surrounded by Serco guards," Priya told the news channel.
"We can't access the swimming pool, we can't access anything. We don't have proper toilets inside this compound. You can't even see grass nearby. It is a very old building and is isolated from the rest of the community."
Priya said it was not safe for her and her husband to return to Sri Lanka with their family.
"We were mentally and physically tortured by the Sri Lankan government. We came here to find safety. We got married here and had children and we thought they would have a safer future here," she said.
"All we want is for the Australian Government to let us live here safely. We aren't asking for anything else and we will work very hard to look after ourselves."