Australia

'Save these people': Friends of Sri Lankan family facing deportation urge Dutton to intervene

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Supporters of an asylum seeker family who lost their appeal against deportation from Australia have appealed to the Immigration Minister to intervene.

Activists are urging Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to intervene in the case of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker family facing deportation.

Parents Priya and Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters had their appeal to stay in Australia rejected by the Federal Circuit Court on Thursday.

Earlier in the year, they were taken from the small Queensland town of Biloela, where they had been residing.

Friend and former Biloela resident Simone Cameron told SBS News it has been a tough time for the family.

"[They have] been in detention for 108 days," she said.

"I can't keep my toddler locked up inside for 108 minutes, and I don't know how this wonderful family has coped as well as they have."

The two girls were born in Australia.
The two girls were born in Australia.
Supplied

Ms Cameron, along with other supporters, is urging Mr Dutton intervene.

"His powers are listed as it's suitable for him to intervene when it's in the public interest," she said.

"So, I think this is a clear case of it being in the public interest. The people of Biloela have spoken. People right round Australia have spoken."

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It was a point echoed by Biloela resident Angela Fredericks.

"It's entirely up to Peter Dutton now to save these people and stop them being put through this hell," she said.

"I'm still putting my faith in him. I know that a lot of people say that's misguided but I refuse to give up."

The couple's lawyers are considering a further appeal. 

They say father Nadesalingam and his family would face persecution as Tamils if deported to Sri Lanka.

But Federal Circuit Court judge Caroline Kirton has agreed with the immigration authority's assessment there is no evidence he would be in danger because he safely returned there three times during the civil war.

The judge has also accepted an assessment that his family continued to live openly in Sri Lanka and there was no evidence they attracted adverse attention from the authorities.

But according to Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam, while the war is over, the danger in the country remains very real.

"Tamils are still at risk of being disappeared, tortured, harassed in many ways," he said

"Tamil asylum seekers who have been deported back to Sri Lanka are facing all sorts of problems. Just two weeks ago, a Tamil asylum seeker who was deported back in 2015 passed away under mysterious circumstances."

In a statement to SBS, the Department of Home Affairs says the family's case has been comprehensively assessed over many years by the department, various tribunals and the courts.

The department says they have consistently found the case does not meet Australia's protection obligations.

Additional reporting: AAP

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