On 14 June the Australian government and its contractors settled a class action suit run on behalf of 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers who were held at the Manus Island regional processing centre by offering them 70 million Australian dollars. This way the Australian government avoided a trial on the illegal detention in dangerous and damaging conditions in the offshore detention centre on Manus Island.
The detention centre was recently ruled ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ and even though currently still operational and housing nearly 900 men, the centre will be closed in October 2017. The settlement was reached on the provision that the Australian government denied any liability for the mistreatment and false imprisonment of people on Manus Island. By denying liability the government can still hold the argument in potential future cases involving Manus. The lead plaintiff in the case was 35-year-old Iranian Majid Kamasaee who declared that in light of this settlement “every person on Manus Island is finally being heard”. After the settlement, Amnesty International released a press statement asking the Australian government to accompany this compensation deal with safe resettlement.
Australia pushes back refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat and transfers them to detention centres on the islands Manus and Nauru. The policy is supposed to deter migrants from attempting the life-threatening voyage to Australian shores in low-quality boats. However, Australia’s policy has been repeatedly and heavily criticised both at home and internationally, among others by the United Nations and Amnesty International for violating fundamental human rights.
For further information:
- ABC, Commonwealth agrees to pay Manus island detainees 70$ in class action settlement, 14 June 2017
- Al Jazeera, Australia to pay 53 million (American) dollar to Manus Island asylum seekers, 14 June 2017
- BBC, Australia agrees to pay A$70m to Manus Island detainees, 14 June 2017