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Asylum seekers win $53M detention settlement from Australian govt

Asylum seekers win $53M detention settlement from Australian govt

The trial had been scheduled to begin on Wednesday in the Victoria state Supreme Court, but the government made a decision to settle the class action brought by law firm Slater and Gordon on behalf of the 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers rather than proceed with a potentially long - and embarrassing - trial.

The settlement, to be shared by 1,905 people held on Manus Island since 2012, averted a public trial against the government and security providers Transfield and G4S.

Slater and Gordon had said the Australian class action would shine a light on the conditions the detainees experienced on Manus Island.

Australia agreed on a refugee resettlement deal with the United States late previous year, under which the bulk of those detained at the two camps would be relocated and Australia in turn would settle refugees from Central America.

Detainees at a controversial Australian asylum-seeker camp in Papua New Guinea won Aus$70 million ($53 million) in compensation on Wednesday after alleging they suffered physical and psychological harm.

The lead plaintiff in the case was an Iranian, Majid Karami Kamasaee, 35, who spent 11 months on Manus Island in 2013-14.

"When I arrived on Manus they confiscated my medicine".

The Manus camp was scheduled to close by October, Baker said. The scars got worse and then developed growths.

"By accepting this settlement, Peter Dutton takes responsibility for the deaths, the serious injuries, the torture and the ongoing harm to Manus Island detainees", Senator McKim said.

"I was in pain every minute of every day on Manus Island".

The settlement of the Australian class action will be subject to court approval.

Slater and Gordon Principal Lawyer Andrew Baker said in a statement most of the detainees were fleeing persecution and violence, but endured alleged "terrible conditions" on Manus Island.

"While no amount of money could fully recognise the bad conditions the detainees endured, we hope today's settlement can begin to provide them with an opportunity to help put this dark chapter of their lives behind them".

In a statement released Wednesday, the Australia Immigration Minister's office said they "strongly refuted" the detainee's claims and the settlement was not an admission of liability.

'A lot of these people are economic refugees and are thinking "we're coming to Australia, they have a great welfare system".

Mr Dutton blamed the class action on Labor for handing "control of the nation's borders to criminal people-smuggling syndicates".


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