Manus: You can't delegate your duty

5th May 2014

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has emphasised it believes that the Australian government has a non-delegable duty to asylum seekers, in a submission to the inquiry into Reza Berati’s tragic death on Manus Island.

“It is a well established principle of the common law that prison authorities have a duty to take reasonable care, including a duty to take reasonable steps to protect individuals from third parties,” said Geraldine Collins, National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“What is clear from the Agreements between Australia and Papua New Guinea, is that the Australian government is calling the shots.”

“The transfer of people, the funding of centres, the contracting of services: in everything, the Australian government has the final say.”

“Therefore, even though the Australian government has contracted out to independent contractors, such as G4S, Wilson Security, Save the Children; any breach of duty of care on the part of these contractors does not mean that the Australian government is necessarily immune from suit.”

“In fact, the principle of non-delegable duty is activated in situations where one person has an essential element of control over people in vulnerable circumstances.”

The Australian Lawyers Alliance submission to the inquiry can be accessed here.

Tags: Human rights Migration law Asylum seekers and refugees