• 12 AUG 20
    • 0
    Federal Court extends orders on COVID19 risk to elderly man as Minister tries to transfer him across closed borders to WA detention centre

    Federal Court extends orders on COVID19 risk to elderly man as Minister tries to transfer him across closed borders to WA detention centre

    Today at an urgent 4pm hearing, The Honourable Justice Murphy of the Federal Court ordered that the previous orders made on Monday for the Minister to cease detaining a 70-year-old man at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA)  by tomorrow, be extended.

    The man asked the Court to urgently intervene to prevent the Government from flying him to Yongah Hill in WA, across a closed state border.

    The Government argued it should be permitted to carry out the transfer, despite the expert medical evidence from the applicant about the risk that might involve because to cancel the flight would involve costs and inconvenience to the Government.

    The Court refused to allow the Government to proceed with the transfer until the Court has had a chance to hear arguments and evidence from both sides about the risk of the proposed transfer.

    Both parties are to provide further submissions and expert material regarding the risks to the man posed by the Department’s plan to transfer him to Yongah Hill detention centre in Perth.

    The further hearing will likely be listed for Wednesday or Thursday next week.

    Background

    On Monday 10 August, Justice Murphy ordered the Department to stop detaining the elderly man at MITA due to a high risk to his life from COVID19 on account of age and diabetes.

    Lawyers for the man successfully argued in court with expert evidence from medical professionals that the man’s life was at risk in MITA and that the Minister of Home Affairs had a duty of care to protect the man’s life from COVID19.

    Lawyers and human rights organisations called for him to be released into the community where he can go into lockdown with the rest of Victoria and protect himself from transmission.

    However late on Tuesday, the Department of Home Affairs advised lawyers that they planned to transfer him to the Yongah Hill detention centre in Perth tomorrow, 13 August 2020 on a commercial flight, having obtained travel approval from the WA Government for his transfer as an exception to the general travel ban on Victorians entering WA.

    This interstate transfer across closed borders would have put him at further risk and also separated him from his Australian citizen son and grandchildren who live in Melbourne.

    Sanmati Verma, Senior Lawyer, Clothier Anderson Immigration Lawyers, who represents the man said:

    “‘It defies the spirit of the Court’s orders that this vulnerable and elderly man be subjected to further risks involved in transferring him to another detention centre.”

    “There are self-evident dangers involved in transit and also in creating a cluster of transferees in Yongah Hill from the eastern states.’

    Dr Carolyn Graydon, Principal Lawyer at Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said: 

    “This is a cynical move by the Department  which should immediately release this man from closed detention  into the community so he can return to his family without delay and practice preventative measures like all Victorians in lockdown.”

    ENDS

    Access to Court Order documents and additional images and video of lack of public health measures at MITA detention centre

    For interviews please contact:

    Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Sen Lawyer Sanmati Verma: Marcella Brassett 0411 026 142

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