Australia rejects UN call to release Tamil family

The family of four have been held for the last month at the Christmas Island detention facility. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 October 2019

Australia rejects UN call to release Tamil family

  • The family is held at the Christmas Island detention facility
  • Their two children were born in Australia

SYDNEY: Australia has rejected a United Nations call to release a Tamil asylum-seeking family from offshore detention after the UN weighed in on a case that has galvanized huge public support.
The family of four has been held at the Christmas Island detention facility for the past month while their fight to stay in the country is before the courts.
Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam and Nadesalingam Murugappan, from Sri Lanka, arrived in Australia by boat separately in 2012 and 2013 seeking asylum and have not been accepted as refugees.
Their two children, Kopika and Tharunicaa, were both born in Australia and the family’s legal battle hinges on the youngest daughter as her lawyer argues her claim has never been assessed.
Lawyer Carina Ford made a submission to the UN’s Human Rights Committee last month on the toddler’s behalf.
In an October 1 letter, seen by AFP, the committee says in response that it “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.”
A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said in a statement that the department was “aware” of the UN’s request, but the family would remain on Christmas Island while their case was under judicial review.
Family friend Angela Fredericks described the UN’s position as “confirmation” that detention facilities were “no place for children or for families.”
“We’ve seen that over the last 19 months with the emotional and physical damage that has occurred to these girls,” she told AFP.
Australia’s hard-line immigration policies include turning away refugees arriving by boat and offshore detention, both measures condemned by the United Nations.
The Tamil family settled in a small rural Queensland town of Biloela, where their neighbors have banded together to push for them to be allowed to remain, a campaign that has received support even from some right-wing commentators and politicians.
A Federal Court judge ruled last month there was enough evidence for the toddler’s case to go to trial, though a date has not yet been set.
Both children were born in Australia but do not have citizenship. They have never been to Sri Lanka.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.