Lawyer tried to keep Somali rape victim in Australia

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A lawyer for a pregnant Somalia refugee rape victim said Monday that he wanted to seek a court order keeping her in Australia before the government suddenly flew her to Nauru without providing the abortion she had requested.

The case of the 23-year-old woman, known by the pseudonym Abyan, has amplified criticisms of the government's tough policy of refusing to allow asylum seekers who arrive by boat to settle in Australia under any circumstances.

Asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australian shores are transferred to Australia-run immigration detention camps on the impoverished Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Abyan alleges she became pregnant at a detention camp on Nauru when she was raped in July.

She requested an abortion and the Australian government flew her to Sydney on Sunday last week on a commercial flight from the tiny atoll for the 14-week pregnancy to be terminated. But she was flown the 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) back to Nauru on Friday in a chartered private jet, in what some critics suspect was a hastily arranged bid to beat a potential court order allowing her to stay.

Government officials said she was sent back because she had decided to not proceed with the termination. Abyan said in a statement from Nauru she had not changed her mind, but had been denied an interpreter and counselling.

"I have been very sick," she wrote in a signed statement. "I have never said thate (sic) I did not want a termination."

Lawyer George Newhouse said Monday that he had started preparing an application for a temporary court injunction keeping her in Australia when he discovered Abyan was to be sent back to Nauru. She was gone before he could make the application.


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