A lawyer for a five year old Iranian girl suffering post-traumatic stress disorder is seeking to halt her deportation to Nauru.
The girl and her family are currently in a Darwin detention centre as her father undergoes medical treatment. The immigration department informed the family they will be sent back to Nauru once his treatment finishes.
Psychiatric assessments obtained by The Guardian Australia detailed the girl’s mental health problems. Doctors reported multiple acts of self-harm, bedwetting, depression and extreme anxiety. She was prescribed anti-depressants and exhibited sexualised behaviour inappropriate for her age.
The reports warned against returning the girl to Nauru because her previous stay exposed her to traumatic events.
The Moss review released last month found evidence of sexual assault of minors inside Nauru detention centre. It also revealed allegations of rape, sexual harassment and drugs for sexual favours within the centre.
John Lawrence SC is a criminal lawyer representing the girl’s family. He is preparing legal action to stop the deportation of the girl and her family back to Nauru.
“She is a five-year-old girl, and five-year-old girls do not go to jail, never mind an unsafe dangerous dump, which is what Nauru is,” Mr Lawrence told the ABC.
“This is obscene, this is an Australian obscenity, and not only are we paying for it, we are committing it.”
Mr Lawrence asked the girl to write her name during one of his visits. She scribbled CAV 020 – the number of the boat she arrived in.
When asked to draw a picture of Nauru, the girl sketched a stick figure with stitched lips.
The Moss review reported 17 instances of lip-stitching and self-harm by minors inside Nauru detention centre during the period October 2013 to October 2014.
Mr Lawrence hopes the immigration department will release the girl and her family into community detention. The girl has two uncles living in Sydney.
The Uniting Church in Australia has joined more than 100 Australian organisations and community groups in calling for an immediate moratorium on
A joint statement released today emphasised the significant mental distress indefinite detention inflicts on asylum seekers.
“Returning those people, including children, to the place of their suffering and even to the place where they may have experienced sexual abuse, amounts to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,” the statement says.
“…Fear of return to Manus Island and Nauru is so acute that self-harm and attempted suicide have rapidly escalated amongst this group..
“…Asylum seekers and refugees have legitimate fears for their safety, and the Australian Government has not implemented meaningful changes to detention conditions at Nauru or Manus Island to ensure they comply with both its own commissioned reports as well as Australia’s obligations under international law.”
You can read the full statement here.
Congregation members are encouraged to write a letter to the Minister for Immigration Mr Peter Dutton and call for an immediate end to offshore transfers. If you would like a letter writing template, please contact jill.ruzbacky.victas.uca.org.au.