Dozens of babies born to asylum seekers could be deported from Australia after a court ruled in a test case that a baby born to a Burmese national is an illegal entrant to the country.
Eleven-month-old Ferouz Myuddin was born at a Brisbane hospital to a Rohingya Muslim asylum seeker.
The mother and baby had been transferred to the city from the notorious refugee detention centre on the island of Nauru, off the north eastern coast of Australia.
Ferouz's mother is one of the hundreds of so-called 'Boat People' who have attempted the perilous sea-crossing to Australia from South East Asia, often in overcrowded and dangerous fishing vessels operated by human traffickers.
Apart from Burmese Rohingya Muslims, their numbers include Sri Lankan Tamils and Hazara Shia's from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Many of them have been detained at Nauru for years in conditions that have been likened to those of a concentration camp.
A judge in Brisbane however, ruled in favour of the Australian government, declaring that the babies were "unauthorized maritime arrivals" and therefore could not claim refugee status.
Lawyers say that up to 100 other babies could be affected by the ruling as the government of conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbot prepares to amend the country's Migration Act to retrospectively declare all babies born to asylum seekers who arrive by boat as "unauthorized" entrants.
If the amendments are passed all the babies will be transferred back to Nauru.
Ferouz's family had arrived in Australian territorial waters in September 2013 and were immediately taken to Nauru. When Ferouz was born prematurely, he and his mother were transferred to a hospital in Brisbane after complications arose during the delivery.
The government says that the move is aimed at discouraging people smugglers. Lawyers for the Myuddin family however, described the ruling as "ludicrous".
The family are reportedly planning to appeal.
The ruling is the latest in what many say are draconian measures to clamp down on asylum seekers to Australia, the former penal colony built by the marginalized of societies as diverse as Britain and China.
Last month, the country signed a controversial deal with Cambodia to resettle refugees in that country.
The government has also introduced 'temporary' visas allowing immigration authorities to deport refugees if conditions in their home country are deemed to have improved.
Australia's High Court is also hearing a separate challenge over 157 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who set out from southern India and were intercepted by the Australian navy in July.
They were held on a customs ship at sea for a month, initially in secret, Their lawyers argued they were illegally detained, but government lawyers said the decision was made under existing laws.
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