$70 million for refugees


AUSTRALIA has agreed to pay A$70 million (K169 million) as compensation to the asylum seekers on Manus for their detention there since 2012.
The class action sought damages on behalf of the 905 asylum seekers represented by the law firm Slater and Gordon.
The detainees wanted compensation from the Australian government and the detention centre managers for alleged physical and psychological injuries they suffered as a result of the conditions in which they were held.
The out-of-court settlement was relayed to the Supreme Court in Melbourne when the case was called yesterday. It is subject, however, to the court’s approval.
The suit also sought damages for false imprisonment after the Supreme Court in PNG had ruled that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus was unconstitutional.
Lawyer Ben Lomai, who has also filed a similar case for the asylum seekers in the PNG court, told The National yesterday that the court cases in PNG and Australia were similar because they had sought similar compensation claims.
He said the A$70 million settlement covered 905 of his clients who were still on Manus and those who had already left.
“We have been in discussions with Slater and Gordon for the last six months so we understand what has happened in the Supreme Court in Melbourne,” Lomai said.
“Now that Slater and Gordon have settled for A$70 million plus costs, we will be looking whether we can withdraw our case (in PNG Supreme Court) on the understanding that the PNG Government will pay costs of all the litigations here.”
He said the case in PNG seeking compensation and damages is expected to go before the Supreme Court on Monday.

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