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News > World

Australia: Refugees Subjected to Crimes Against Humanity

  • Australia: Refugees Faced Crimes Against Humanity, Class Actions Decry

    Australia: Refugees Faced Crimes Against Humanity, Class Actions Decry | Photo: Reuters file

Published 10 December 2018

The Australian National Justice Project is seeking injunctions and damages for crimes committed by the Common Wealth of Australia against refugees and asylum seekers. 

On Monday, a class action lawsuit will be brought against Australia by an NGO for abuses committed against asylum seekers and refugees in offshore centers.

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“There are 12 people that died offshore because of the way they’ve been treated by the Australian government,” said George New House who leads the National Justice Project. New House is referring to 12 people who have were detained on Nauru and Manus Island and died from causes such as suicide, untreated medical conditions or because they have been murdered.

The two class actions against the Common Wealth of Australia will be lead by a team of lawyers from the National Justice Project, led by the renowned barrister Julian Burnside QC.

The alleged violations committed against refugees and asylum seekers include torture, crimes against humanity, and the intentional infliction of harm as part of the country’s offshore processing system.

For New House, the government is acting deliberately, “in order to deter other people from trying to get to Australia by boat in order to seek asylum.”

The legal team will seek injunctions and damages, related to the following: “violations such as arbitrary imprisonment and deprivation of physical liberty, denial of proper medical assessment, and treatment, inadequate security protection, inadequate food and water, and inadequate accommodation and an unhygienic environment,” according to The Guardian.

The crimes against these victims are said to have taken place in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and on Nauru.

There are currently 1,000 people located on Manus and Nauru who are likely to have a valid asylum claim which could lead to them obtaining refugee status.

Some legislators have been trying, unsuccessfully thus far, to get parliament to approve a law which would allow for the transport of critical refugees and asylum seekers from both sites to Australia, pending doctors’ approval.

The legal battle against the abuse of these vulnerable people in situations of mobility both in Manus and Nauru is not new. In September 2017, a judge approved a US$70 million compensation payment to nearly 2,000 individuals over illegal detention and dangerous conditions at the facilities.

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