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.


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.