Asylum seekers to pursue compensation case in higher court

National

By CHARLES MOI
Asylum seekers at the regional processing centre on Manus will still pursue their case for compensation in the Supreme Court in PNG, lawyer Ben Lomai says.
Lomai’s comments came after a Victorian judge in Australia on Wednesday agreed for the Australian government to pay A$70 million (about K178 million) as compensation settlement for detainees kept on Manus island.
The Guardian reported that Victorian Supreme Court judge Justice Cameron Macaulay said on Wednesday that he had approved the settlement reached with the Australian government and operators of the Manus island regional processing centre.
The 166-page statement of claim in the class action detailed systematic physical and sexual assault of detainees, inadequate medical care leading to deaths, high rates of suicide and self-harm, and regular outbreaks of violence, including the three-day riots of Feb 2014, in which more than 70 asylum seekers were seriously injured and Reza Barati was murdered by guards.
Lomai told The National yesterday that his clients detained on Manus were seeking exemplary damages and damages for breaches of their constitutional rights which include deprivation of liberty.
Exemplary damages are intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit.
Lomai clarified that the A$70 million was for about 1300 registered refugees currently at the centre or had left the centre.
He said only persons who were given refugee status and had travel documents would be able to open bank account for their money to be paid.
Lomai said the 1300 also included his clients but added that they would be seeking a higher compensation payout from the Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea for exemplary damages and compensation for breaches to the constitution.
He said that with the A$70 million payout, a refugee would receive on average about A$30,000 to A$40,000 each as compensation which was equal to about K100,000.
According to Lomai, his clients’ matter returns to the Supreme Court on Sept 28 for hearing.

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