A six-month trial by 1,905 asylum seekers kept at a camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea was supposed to begin Wednesday, June 14th in the Victoria state Supreme Court. The asylum seekers were seeking damages for alleged physical and psychological injuries they say they suffered as a result of the conditions on the island. There was also a related court case regarding false imprisonment in Papua New Guinea which ruled that their detention was unconstitutional.
The Australian government, however, reached a settlement of around 90 million Australian dollars (U.S $68 million) with the asylum seekers in this case according to a minister and lawyers. The settlement was paid by the Australian government and the operators of the male-only Manus Island camp, G4S Australia, and Broadspectrum. “The government and operators deny liability as part of the settlement and agreed to pay AU$70 million plus the cost of three years of legal work behind the case,” said Rory Walsh a lawyer for the asylum seekers.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement “An anticipated six-month legal battle for this case would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees alone with an unknown outcome,” and that “In such circumstances, a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers.” Another asylum seeker lawyer Andrew Baker said: “that money would be distributed according to how long asylum seekers had spent on Manus and what they had endured.”
This settlement comes after an Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed and another 69 asylum seekers were injured during a riot in the Manus camp in 2014 involving staff, police and Manus locals. “Two asylum seekers also died from medical complications and at least one of those would have survived with appropriate and timely treatment”, Baker said.
The United States is now considering resettling up to 1,250 refugees from Manus Island which is scheduled to close in October and Nauru under a deal Australia struck with the U.S. when former president Barack Obama was then president.
Keep reading the Miller News Service for developments on this story!
Source: Associated Press
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