Human rights lawyers win 2017 ALA QLD Civil Justice Award
20th Feb 2017
Three lawyers who successfully fought for improvements in medical care for people being held in Australian offshore detention facilities following the death of a detainee been presented with the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) Queensland 2017 Civil Justice Award (CJA).
The two barristers, Stephen Keim SC and Justin Harper, who appeared at the inquest into the death of Hamid Khazaei on behalf of the family, and lawyer Gerry Mullins, who appeared on behalf of Doctors for Refugees , were presented with the QLD CJA during ALA state conference on the Gold Coast.
ALA Queensland President Michelle James said that the three lawyers had gone above and beyond in seeking justice for Mr Khazaei and for all people who are still being held in offshore detention by the Australian government on Nauru and Manus Island.
“Stephen Keim SC, Justin Harper and Gerry Mullins are truly deserving recipients of the ALA Queensland Civil Justice Award,” Ms James said.
“These three people stood up for the rights of asylum seekers to access medical care whilst in detention.”
“Hamid Khazaei an Iranian national, died after a cut foot he sustained while in detention on Manus Island became infected in late August 2014.
“The exact circumstances of Mr Khazaei’s death are the currently subject of a coroner’s inquest. However what seems apparent is that despite being under the care of the Australian government, the medical facilities provided for offshore detainees were inadequate, at best,” Ms James said.
“It is difficult to find justice under such circumstances, however, the winners of this year’s Qld CJA Award have worked towards ensuring that the same events and outcomes are not the fate of another detainee.
Ms James said that Mr Keim SC, Mr Harper and Mr Mullins all worked pro-bono on this case and volunteered extensive periods of time to ensure Mr Khazaei’s family and all people in offshore detention received the best legal counsel.
“The work by these three lawyers has explored inadequacies within the medical care and evacuation process for detainees on Manus Island,” Ms James said.
“They have actively worked towards improving access to basic, as well as competent, health care for all offshore detainees and have proven extremely tenacious in their quest to protect and promote the rights of those who are vulnerable or have been wronged.
“The work of Mr Keim SC, Mr Harper and Mr Mullins has been in the finest traditions of ALA’s mission to protect individual rights regardless of a person’s wealth, background or religious belief, and we are very proud to present this award to them today,” Ms James said.