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Temporary reprieve for refugee schoolgirl facing deportation

Refugee schoolgirl from Hobart's St Mary's College, who feared deportation to her native El Salvador, has been granted a student visa to remain in Australia until March 2005.

Archbishop Adrian Doyle said he was delighted Ruth could finish her studies.

"I sincerely thank the minister for making this decision, but I must say that I am disappointed that Ruth has not been granted permanent residency and that the fight for this must continue," he said.

But Ruth's lawyer Eugene Alexander, who was engaged by St Mary's College, branded the decision as a severe blow.

"What Ruth has got is a short-term reprieve, once again," he said. "I find the decision quite appalling in the sense that it is totally devoid of any compassion, considering that there were severe humanitarian issues involved in Ruth's case."

Ruth, who has just completed her Year 11 exams at Hobart's St Mary's, arrived in Tasmania three years ago after being kidnapped by gang members trying to force her to become a drug runner.

Principal of St Mary's College Joanne Atkins said the college community is disappointed and saddened by the decision, which she describes as a temporary solution.

Meanwhile there here is pressure on the Church in Tasmania to release the name of a priest involved in further allegations of abuse.

A woman, who does not want to be named, says she was assaulted by the priest 23 years ago when she sought counselling after the death of a family member.

The woman, along with the coalition for an inquiry into child sex abuse, met church officials yesterday.

The coalition's Michael Longbottom says the Catholic Church must name the priest and allow for a full investigation.

"We've given them a good reason to do that immediately," he said. "We believe it's urgent that this man be identified and that proceedings commence against him and that he be allowed to defend himself obviously and that a proper adjudication process occur."

Visa for girl battling deportation (AAP/ 5/12/03)
Catholic Church remains silent on abuse case (ABC 5/12/03)
Ruth stays (The Mercury 6/12/03)

Anger over Hobart schoolgirl's latest visa extension (ABC/Yahoo 5/12/03)
Victims' group uses media to threaten archbishop (CathNews 5/12/03)
St Mary's College | News on Ruth
Ruth Cruz Mendoza (Media Release from Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone 20/10/03)
Vanstone grants visa to let teenager finish school year (The Age 23/10/03)

8 Dec 2003