7 Sep 2017

Manus compensation will prevent further legal action, says refugee

3:53 pm on 7 September 2017

An Iranian refugee on Manus Island has opted out of a multi million dollar compensation package because he says it will prevent detainees from taking further legal action if more harm is inflicted on them.

Manus Island protest

A protest on Manus Island. Photo: Supplied

An Australian court has approved a compensation deal between the Australian government and its detainees on the island but several hundred detainees have opted out of receiving the settlement.

The government and service providers that run the detention centre have agreed to pay $US56 million in damages for negligence to about 1300 current and former detainees who registered to be part of the settlement.

However, 1900 men are eligible.

Amir Taghinia was amoung those who opted out of the lawsuit.

He said the settlement would prevent detainees from taking further legal action if more harm was inflicted on them during their incarceration.

"The defendants still can harm people, the difficulties and the harsh circumstances are still going on and it has not ended yet. So settling such case is absolutely not making sense."

He also said that settlement was inadequate.

The Kurdish journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani said it was not yet clear how men still detained on Manus Island would receive the money without bank accounts.

"The big problem at this stage is how the lawyers will be able to send the money to the refugees who are in Manus prison camp, because we don't have the right to have bank accounts in this country," said Mr Boochani.

"The Australian Border Force ordered PNG immigration to prevent the refugees from opening bank accounts. The lawyers should consider this problem and tell the court to solve it, " he said.

"I wonder why lawyers don't say anything about how they'll pay the compensation to the refugees?"

Detention centre guards on Manus Island.

Detention centre guards on Manus Island. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

A lawyer for some of the men who was being compensated, Daniel Webb, said this didn't mean all the problems on Manus Island had been fixed.

"It's not good enough for the government to throw hush money at the abuses of yesterday. It's got to actually stop the abuses of tomorrow. It's an incredibly tense and dangerous time on Manus Island right now. The Australian government is bulldozing the place, but the innocent men trapped inside it for the last four years still don't have anywhere safe to go."

The Australian government wants to close the detention centre by the end of next month.

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