Family of murdered Iranian asylum seeker sues Australian government

17 May 2022 By Lauren Croft

After an Iranian asylum seeker was killed in offshore detention in 2014, lawyers acting for his family are calling for justice to be served.

Reza Berati, an Iranian asylum seeker, was just 23-years-old when he was “brutally beaten to death by guards and other local contractors in a violent rampage” at the Manus Island Detention Centre, Maurice Blackburn noted, that also left 77 other asylum seekers injured.

Last week, civil proceedings brought by former Manus Island guard Chandra Osborne were settled by the Australian government and G4S – and at least 20 former guards have subsequently brought legal action against the government and G4S for trauma sustained from witnessing the violence. While many of these proceedings have been settled, with payouts running into the tens of millions, Mr Berati’s family are yet to receive any compensation.

Maurice Blackburn and the Human Rights Law Centre, who are representing the Berati family, said it was disgraceful that eight years after Reza Berati’s murder, his family had still received no justice – and have called on the Australian government and G4S for compensation.

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Human Rights Law Centre legal director Keren Adams said that it was “unbelievable” that the family had still not received any compensation.

“Reza Berati was a young man who came to this country seeking safety and was killed by the very people meant to be protecting him. It was an open and shut case of a murder on our government’s watch and there should have been an immediate apology and compensation paid to his family. Instead, his parents have been left ignored and unheard for eight years, traumatised by their son’s murder,” she said.

“It is unbelievable that the government and G4S have been willing to pay millions in compensation to guards who witnessed the violence and yet nothing to the family whose son was actually murdered. No amount of money will ever bring the Berati’s son back, but his parents should not be forced to suffer the added indignity of having to battle through the courts for some small measure of justice.”

The Australian Senate inquiry that investigated the February 2014 incident found the violence was “eminently foreseeable” and that the Australian government had failed in its duty to protect those at the centre from harm. It specifically recommended that compensation be provided to Mr Berati’s family for his death; however, this recommendation was never acted upon.

Mr Berati’s parents Ita Torab Berati and Farideh Baralak are suing the Australian government and security operator G4S for the mental harm suffered as a result of their son’s murder, in what is thought to be the first time that civil proceedings have been brought in Australia on behalf of the family of someone who has died in offshore detention.

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Jennifer Kanis, principal lawyer and head of the social justice practice at Maurice Blackburn, said that the incident “should never have happened”.

“The Australian government and the security operator G4S failed in its duty of care to the people in offshore detention. It was their job to make sure staff were properly trained and the centre was properly equipped to deal with any outbreaks of violence. Their failure to protect the people in their care has led to the tragic death of Reza Berati, and caused devastating harm to his parents,” she said.

“It’s been eight years since his death, but his parents feel the pain of his absence every single day. That pain has been compounded by the protracted legal fight they are being forced to embark upon as a result of the Australian government and G4S’ refusal to offer any compensation for the loss of their son.”

Family of murdered Iranian asylum seeker sues Australian government
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