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Australia agrees to pay $53 million to Manus Island detainees

IANS  |  Canberra 

The Australian on Wednesday agreed to pay detainees on Manus Island more than 70 million Australian dollars ($53 million) in the "largest settlement in a human rights class-action" in the country's history.

Over 1,900 asylum seekers who were held, or are currently being held, at the government's offshore detention centre on the island filed a class action suit claiming that the did not deliver on its duty of care by housing them in.

The detainees claimed they were exposed to conditions which were not up to Australian standards between 2012 and 2016. They also claimed wrongful imprisonment or psychological damage, Xinhua news agency reported.

Lawyers representing the asylum seekers confirmed the case had been settled out of court and said recipients could be given up to 150,000 Australian dollars ($113,248) each for the poor treatment.

In a statement, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the settlement was not an admission of guilt on behalf of the Commonwealth, rather, the more cost-effective way of settling the claim.

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

"To date, Australian taxpayers have paid more than 13.7 billion Australian dollars ($10.33 billion) to clean up Labour's loss of control of our borders. Today another 90 million (Australian dollars) was added to that bill with the settlement of the Manus class action," he said.

"An anticipated six-month legal battle for this case would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees alone, with an unknown outcome. In such circumstances a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers.

"Labour imposed this cost on Australians when it handed control of the nation's borders to criminal people-smuggling syndicates," Dutton said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Baker from law firm Slater and Gordon said the settlement money would be allocated to the more than 1,905 detainees in a "calculated" manner, to ensure those who suffered the most get paid the most.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 14 2017. 14:16 IST