Govt agrees to $70m deal to dodge scrutiny of Manus

Govt agrees to $70m deal to dodge scrutiny of Manus”

The Australian government had sued a group of lawsuits filed by the Slater and Gordon firm on behalf of 1905 refugees and asylum-seekers detained on the island, instead of continuing a six-month trial that would include evidence before the court of detainees for killings inside Detention center, systematic sexual and physical assault, and inadequate medical treatment causing injury and death.

A compensation deal from the Australian Government worth $70 million for 1,300 current and former detainees on Manus Island has been approved by Victoria's Supreme Court.

Some of those who have not registered are yet to be contacted or are still in negotiations to join, but 56 have opted out.

Justice Cameron Macaulay concluded the $70 million was a fair and reasonable sum, noting it was clear money to be distributed to the group members as an additional $20 million was set aside for costs.

"This is reached with a strong degree of conviction". About 800 people - all men - remain on the island.

"These detainees came to Australia seeking refuge, compassion and protection, which were all denied to them by successive Commonwealth governments", said Rory Welsh, primary legal representative of Slate and Gordon.

"The court today approved an extension to the deadline for registrations, which will allow group members an extra two-and-a-half weeks", Mr Walsh said.

However, the deal was also a big win for the Commonwealth because it avoided testing what the refugees' lawyer called "this fiction the Commonwealth seeks to maintain for political purposes that it's PNG that holds these people, that PNG has the duty of care for these people".

But one Iranian-born refugee told the Australian Broadcasting Company the money would not be enough to compensate for his ordeal, nor to get him off the island.

Andrew Baker from Slater and Gordon said most of the detainees were happy with the outcome.

"Compared to other class actions, the level of engagement and participation has been extraordinary, despite the communication difficulties involved with such a geographically dispersed group". We would encourage anyone who wants to register to get in touch with us.

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