Australia to return asylum baby to detention campMonday 22 February 2016 22.34
Australia has said an asylum-seeker's baby brought from a Pacific detention camp for hospital treatment is expected to be returned to the camp as a deterrent to people-smugglers, despite protests from doctors and others.
Under Australia's tough immigration policy, asylum-seekers attempting to arrive in Australia by boat are sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they are held while their refugee applications are processed.
They are blocked from resettlement in Australia even if found to be refugees.
The case of one-year-old Asha, the daughter of Nepalese asylum-seekers who was brought to Brisbane suffering burns last month, prompted a stand-off with doctors and a week of rallies outside the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.
Medical staff had refused to release her until a suitable home environment had been identified.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said she had now been moved to community detention, where asylum-seekers waiting for their refugee applications to be processed live within the community.
They are usually allowed to move around freely.
"She's in community detention and obviously support will be provided to the family," Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.
But he added that the government would not back down on its policy of returning her to offshore detention once medical and legal issues had been settled.
Refugee advocates claimed she was secretly moved from the hospital at 4am to an undisclosed location and the family's lawyer Daniel Webb, from the Human Rights Law Centre, said they were initially unable to speak to the family.
"It's been an emotional few days for the family. They are relieved and thankful that they aren't languishing on Nauru or locked-up in a detention centre," Mr Webb said in a statement.
"It's not okay that the government has prevented us from speaking with our client for the last three days," he said after speaking to the baby's mother by telephone.
"It's a matter of basic fairness and due process that vulnerable people are able to speak with their lawyers."
Churches, state governments and even New Zealand have offered sanctuary to Asha and the 266 other asylum-seekers also in Australia for medical care.
But Mr Dutton said this would only encourage people-smugglers.
"I've been very clear, the government's been very clear from day one, that we have a responsibility not only to this baby, but to the babies who drowned at sea before and also potentially to babies that will drown again if the people-smugglers got back into business," he said.
"So there is a much bigger issue at play here and, as I say, as a country we should be proud because we bring in record numbers of refugees through the UN and through the Special Humanitarian Programme.
"But we are not going to allow a message to get out that people can come to Nauru, come to Australia for medical assistance and then that will be their ticket out into Australian society. That is not going to happen."
Australia has long defended its hardline policy, which also includes turning boats back, saying it has prevented deaths at sea and secured its borders.
Under the previous Labour government, at least 1,200 people died trying to reach Australia by boat between 2008 and 2013.