Australian government’s $70 million court settlement covers up crimes against refugees

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Australian government’s $70 million court settlement covers up crimes against refugees

By
Max Newman

26 June 2017

The Australian government has settled a class action lawsuit, agreeing to pay $70 million to 1,905 current and former detainees in the Australian-run refugee prison camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, as well as legal costs estimated at $20 million.

The June 14 settlement sought to continue covering up the crimes committed against refugees by successive Australian governments. It prevented the case from going to trial, which would have involved a detailed exposure, in a televised open court, of the abuses at the detention centre.

Corporate media outlets described the outcome as possibly the largest human rights settlement in Australian history. Yet the payments will average only around $36,000 for each claimant, a pitiful sum considering what they have suffered.

Moreover, many of them remain detained, and the entire system of illegally repelling asylum seekers or confining them indefinitely in remote hell holes in violation of international refugee law survives intact.

The settlement proceeds will be split according to how long each person spent at the centre, the injuries they received and whether they were present during particular events, such as a February 2014 attack by soldiers and security guards on prisoners protesting inside the camp in which one detainee Reza Barati, was killed and 77 others injured.

The case was taken to the Supreme Court of Victoria by the law firm Slater and Gordon, on behalf of all persons who were imprisoned on Manus Island between 21 November 2012 and 12 May 2016.

Slater and Gordon class action group leader Rory Walsh acknowledged some detainees would be displeased by the settlement, but said they could petition the…

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