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Australian Federal Court maintains 'procedural fairness' was denied to Tamil asylum-seeking family

(Photos credit: HometoBilo)

The Australian Federal Court upheld an April 2020 ruling that the government’s handling of the visa application of the youngest Australian-born daughter of the Tamil family from Biloela, Tharnicaa, denied her procedural fairness. 

The decision, which was passed on 15 February 2021, prevents the family from being removed from Australia while the legal process remains ongoing. Meanwhile, the family will continue residing in detention on Christmas Island without ministerial intervention.

The Biloela family are one of the thousands of asylum-seeking families who are detained in Australia’s immigration detention centres over extensive periods of time. Priya and Nades Murugappan who came with separate asylum claims in 2012 and 2013 were detained alongside their daughters Kopica and Tharnicca after their four-year bridging visa expired in March 2018. Priya reported seeing her former husband burnt alive and was raped in the Sri Lankan armed struggle, whilst Nades, who had connections to the LTTE, fears his life will be at risk if he is returned to Sri Lanka. 

Despite credible concerns over torture and extra-judicial killings in Sri Lanka, the Department of Home Affairs has repeatedly maintained that the family does not meet the criteria for protected status.

The legal costs and the cost to keep the family in detention on Christmas Island has cost the government more than $6m.

According to a tweet by ‘Home to Bilo’ on the day of the decision, a campaign group dedicated to fighting for the release of the Biloela family, the latter’s legal representatives will be reviewing the decision and considering appealing to the High Court, and unless the Minister provides an undertaking not to remove, will apply for an injunction. 

The video below shows the family's reaction to the court's decision.

Read more here.

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