Australia’s government says it will stand firm on its asylum seeker policy amid protests over a one-year-old girl’s impending deportation to Nauru.
Doctors at a Brisbane hospital are refusing to discharge the girl, Asha, who is expected to be sent back to the Australian-run detention centre.
The daughter of asylum-seeker parents suffered serious burns at the camp.
Former immigration minister Scott Morrison said the policy would continue “absolutely” and “completely.”
The government says its controversial offshore detention policy is necessary, and aimed at preventing asylum seekers trying to reach Australia on unseaworthy boats.
Australia’s High Court upheld Australia’s asylum policy as legal under the country’s constitution in a decision handed down at the beginning of February.
Doctors at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital say they won’t release Asha unless a “suitable home environment is identified”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said no decision would be made to risk the “health or security of any individual”.
“It is a difficult job, because we have to do it in a way that gives no incentive to the people smugglers,” Mr Turnbull said.
Australia and asylum
- The number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey.
- To stop the influx, the government adopted tough measures intended as a deterrent.
- Everyone who arrives is detained. Under a new policy, they are processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia.
- The government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around.