Border Force ‘denies’ baby Isabella a church baptism

Huyen Tran and Paul Lee with their daughter, Isabella (Refugee Action Collective)

Australian Border Force is preventing a baby who was born in immigration detention and is still there seven months later from being baptised in a church, according to the family and a Melbourne priest. Source: The Guardian.

It is the latest in what supporters claim is exceptional treatment of Huyen Tran and her seven-month-old daughter, Isabella, who was born into detention in Melbourne, and comes as new details emerge about an attempt to deport Tran while she was seven months pregnant.

A United Nations body is now examining whether Australia is breaching its human rights obligations by holding Isabella in arbitrary detention.

Ms Tran and her daughter are housed under guard in a section of Melbourne’s immigration detention facility, and Ms Tran has sought to have Isabella baptised in a local church.

According to Fr Peter Carrucan, who has been visiting the Melbourne detention centre since 2010, Australian Border Force has repeatedly refused or ignored the request.

“The detention centre is a very unsuitable place for the celebration of baptism,” Fr Carrucan said. 

“The room that’s allocated to us is books and chairs and desks and things, so it’s totally unsuitable to invite people to come and share in the celebration.”

“The church is only five minutes away from the detention centre and in the past we’ve used it for a number of baptisms – not so much for children, mainly for adults.”

Fr Carrucan said they previously had a nicer room to hold Masses in the centre but were moved to the classroom-like area without explanation.

“When I asked the manager why he said: ‘Because I said so.’”

Ms Tran is Vietnamese and sought asylum in Australia by boat with her brother in 2011, at the age of 21. A Catholic, she claimed she faced religious persecution in her home country, but an assessment determined she was not entitled to protection.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre says Ms Tran has not had the opportunity to be fairly assessed and has limited legal options because she arrived by sea.

Ms Tran and Isabella are not permitted to live in the community with Ms Tran’s husband, Paul, who lives in Australia on a 457 working visa and is unable to sponsor his wife.


Border Force accused of preventing church baptism of baby born in detention (The Guardian

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