A judge has approved a $70m compensation payout to current and former Manus Island asylum seekers and refugees over their illegal detention in dangerous conditions in what is Australia’s largest human rights class action settlement.
Victorian supreme court justice Cameron Macaulay said on Wednesday he had approved the settlement reached with the Australian government and operators of the Manus Island regional processing centre.
Lawyers hope to be able to get the compensation paid to current and former Manus Island detainees before the offshore immigration detention centre closes at the end of October.
The Australian government settled the landmark class action in June rather than proceed with a six-month trial. Had the matter gone to trial, the court would have heard evidence from detainees detailing deaths inside the detention centre, allegations of systemic sexual and physical abuse, and allegations of inadequate medical treatment leading to injury and death.
The court heard earlier some asylum seekers and refugees still held on Manus Island believed the $70m figure was too low and did not address their ongoing plight or resolve their situation.
One hundred and sixty-four objections were lodged to the settlement by members of the class action, most of those from men still held on Manus. However, 145 of those objectors have registered to participate in the settlement on approval by the court.
About 70% of the 1,923 members of the class action – who represent the majority of people detained on the island since 2012 – have so far registered to be part of the settlement. Detainees must register their claims by 13 October to receive their share.
as carried in theguardian on 6.9.17