Australia reaches settlement with suing asylum seekers

Stringer.  Reuters                       Asylum-seekers look through a fence at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea in 2014

Their lawyer David Curtain told the court they reached a settlement with the Australian government and the operators of the male-only Manus Island camp, G4S Australia and Broadspectrum.

About 1,905 asylum seekers who were held, or are now being held, at the Australian government's offshore detention center on Manus Island filed a class action suit claiming the government did not deliver on its duty of care by housing them in, and exposing them to, conditions which were not up to Australian standards between 2012 and 2016.

The asylum seekers were seeking damages for physical and psychological injuries they argue they suffered as a result of the conditions on the island and false imprisonment.

The case was brought on behalf of 1,905 detainees who alleged they endured physical and psychological harm while being held at the Manus Island Detention Centre between 21 November 2012 and 12 May 2016.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Australia Immigration Minister's office said they "strongly refuted" the detainee's claims and the settlement was not an admission of liability.

Some beneficiaries of the class-action lawsuit are likely heading to the U.S. The Obama administration agreed to take 1,250 refugees from Manus and other offshore facilities. "I was in pain every minute of every day on Manus Island", he said. It is expected to fully close in October.

"The Australian government have folded today as they know an independent judicial examination of the practice of offshore detention would shine a light on how brutal, damaging and inhumane these practices are".

The lead plaintiff was 35-year-old Iranian Christian Majid Kamasaee, who fled his homeland to escape violent religious persecution.

Between 1999 and 2011, the Immigration Department paid $23.4 million in compensation to people who had been held in Australian-run immigration detention centres, documents obtained under Freedom of Information by the Australian Lawyers Alliance showed.

The class action was settled for $70 million plus roughly $20 million in costs to law firm Slater and Gordon, which Mr Dutton derided in parliament as "ambulance chasers". "I was severely burned in a fire when I was a child, and needed more than 30 operations, including skin grafts", he said in a statement read by his attorney.

He also said that he believes there is an "immediate and humane" solution and that is to "allow these men to come to Australia".

"The government's decision to settle the case is effectively a concession that it has knowingly caused serious harm to innocent people for the last four years, and it is responsible for that harm", he said. But I was sent to Manus, which was hell.

"The Commonwealth defence was that it was the PNG authorities doing the imprisoning and detaining and not them", he said.

Dutton blamed the previous Labour government for reopening the Manus Island centre when it was not up to standard.

Manus Island detainees will receive AUS$70million (NZD$73m) in the settlement of a class action against the Australian government.

Sudanese asylum seeker Abdul Aziz Muhamat told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Port Moresby, where he's receiving medical treatment, that he's "really happy" with the outcome.

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