The Australian government has been ordered to pay over $200,000 in legal fees to Tamil asylum-seeking family as they fight deportation to Sri Lanka.
Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, were initially detained in Melbourne in March 2018.
Federal Court Justice, Mark Mohinsky ordered the family’s costs of $206,934.33 be paid to the family as their youngest daughter, Kopika, was denied procedural fairness in an application for a protection visa, SBS Australia reported.
The family are currently being detained on Christmas Island and continue to face deportation to Sri Lanka.
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The Tamil asylum-seeking family, Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, were initially detained in Melbourne during an early morning raid in March 2018. They were detained after their four-year bridging visa expired.
Nades and Priya came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 having separate asylum claims. Priya reported seeing her former husband burnt alive whilst Nades is fearful of returning to Sri Lanka due to his connections to the LTTE. 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. Australian immigration law prevents “unauthorised maritime arrivals” but discretion can be placed in exceptional cases likes that of the Murugappan family.
Last August the government attempted to deport the family but was prevented by a last-minute injunction from the Federal Court which forced the plane carrying the family to land in Darwin.
Last week, the family expressed their concern with the number of guards that came into contact with their family amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19.
Despite requiring to self-isolate for 14 days before entering Christmas Island, Carina Ford, the family's lawyer, highlighted that many guards had not been complying with this obligation.
“There are about 10 to 15 staff daily coming into contact with us. If I was living in my own house then I could control who comes in and doesn’t come in and I would feel safer,” said the mother, Priya.
Human Rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch have criticised the handling of the inmates at detention centres and prisons of Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.