The Australian Government today confirmed it would pay $70 million to almost 2000 men, many of whom it has warehoused on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for nearly 4 years.
The unprecedented settlement effectively dodges a six-month trial, which was set to start in the Victorian Supreme Court today and would have exposed further details of the abusive and unlawful conditions inside the camp.
Daniel Webb, a Director of Legal Advocacy with the Human Rights Law Centre, said:
“The government’s decision to settle this case is an important and long overdue concession that it has knowingly caused profound harm to innocent people in its care. These men came here seeking safety - full of hope and optimism for a better life. Instead of treating them with decency and respect for their basic rights, our government has deliberately and unlawfully mistreated them for four years,” said Mr Webb.
However, Mr Webb said that while acknowledging responsibility for past abuses was important, it was the government’s responsibility to also prevent further harm and find a humane way forward for all of the men still left on Manus.
“Throwing money at the abuses of yesterday won’t stop the abuses of today. 900 men are still languishing on a painful and dangerous road to nowhere. These men have been shot at, beaten and unlawfully detained. They’ve also suffered the mental torment of not knowing if or when their ordeal would ever end. Manus is not a safe place for them - never has been, never will be,” added Mr Webb.
"It becomes clearer with every passing day that the only humane and viable way forward is the most obvious one - immediately evacuate anyone who is not resettled in the US to safety in Australia," said Mr Webb.
For further comments or queries please contact:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519