Asylum seekers who claim they endured physical and psychological harm on Manus Island between 2012 and 2016 say they “are finally being heard” after the Federal Government agreed to pay $70 million in compensation.
The group of 1900 current and former detainees alleged the Commonwealth breached its duty of care by holding them in conditions that did not meet Australian standards.
During the period of their incarceration there was also a riot that resulted in the death of an asylum seeker and serious injuries to other detainees.
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They also claimed they were falsely imprisoned after Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled their detention was illegal.
A Victorian Supreme Court trial against the Commonwealth and security companies Transfield and G4S, which had been delayed for several months, was due to start today and expected to run for six months.
Law firm Slater and Gordon, which ran the class action, hope to get the compensation paid to detainees before the offshore immigration detention centre closes in October.
The firm will be finalising the details of a settlement distribution scheme in the coming weeks, which will have to be approved by the Victorian Supreme Court.
Mr Baker said each detainee’s compensation amount will be calculated individually, with regard to the length of their detention, the events and conditions they experienced, and the severity of any injuries.
Most of the class action group members are already dispersed across the globe, including at least 540 who have returned to their country of origin or gone to a third country.
About 860 men remained in the Manus centre as of January this year.
Some are expected to be offered resettlement under Australia’s deal with the United States but they otherwise face being sent to another third country or back to their country of origin.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said none of the illegal maritime arrivals on Manus Island or in Nauru will be settled in Australia.