Medical treatment injunction: Asylum seeker

Noted today by Associate Professor Katy Barnett is an application for injunction made to the High Court of Australia. A woman seeking asylum, detained on Nauru, had requested a pregnancy termination in Australia. She was instead flown to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for the procedure. The application to the High Court was made because of doubts as to the legality of the proposed procedure if performed in PNG: Plaintiff s99/2016 v The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2016] HCATrans 81.

On the question of duty it was argued for the woman that contrary to her will, she was taken with Wilson Security officers to Papua New Guinea, she was put in the custody of an Australian security officer in Papua New Guinea, she was taken there for the purpose of medical treatment which she indicated she wanted a termination, but in Australia, not Papua New Guinea, and the circumstances that must have led to her being able to enter New Guinea, which the Commonwealth has not explained, would require some kind of arrangement by which the Commonwealth would assume some requirement of responsibility.

Orders were made such that the defendants, whether by their officers, servants, agents, contractors or otherwise are to take no step to cause, procure or otherwise be involved in a termination of the plaintiff’s pregnancy in Papua New Guinea; and take no step to remove the plaintiff from Papua New Guinea, other than to Australia.

The further conduct of the matter was remitted to the Federal Court of Australia.

With thanks to Ebony Birchall and to Associate Professor Tina Cockburn for highlighting this matter.

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