Court ruling means detainees can claim damages from Aust govt

26th Apr 2016

Asylum seekers are highly likely to successfully claim damages from the Australian government following a ruling by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

Today the PNG Supreme Court ruled that Australia's detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was illegal, and directed the PNG and Australian governments to immediately take steps to end the detention of asylum seekers in PNG.

ALA spokesperson Greg Barns said the decision strengthened claims that Australia had breached its duty of care for these detainees and made claims for damages for false imprisonment highly likely.

“The PNG Supreme Court ruling on the illegality of detention on Manus Island is consistent with international law, which clearly states indefinite detention is unlawful,” Mr Barns said.

“Furthermore, the ruling makes it highly likely that asylum seekers can successfully make claims for damages for false imprisonment from the time they entered detention on Manus Island.”

“The decision also strengthens claims that Australia has breached its duty of care to those who come within its migration system by keeping them in conditions that are unlawful,” Mr Barns said.

“If Australia ignores the decision then it is contradicting its oft-stated claim that Manus Island detention is a matter for PNG jurisdiction.” 

“The decision by the PNG Supreme Court demonstrates the fundamental importance of a robust and independent judiciary in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in communities,” Mr Barns said.

Tags: Asylum seekers and refugees