ALA warns of asylum seeker compo claims
The Australian Lawyers Alliance says the federal government’s review of asylum seekers held in Nauru may leave the Commonwealth liable to a swathe of compensation claims.
The Moss Review, released on 20 March by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, was conducted by former integrity commissioner Philip Moss into allegations relating to conditions experienced by asylum seekers held at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru.
Mr Moss detailed allegations of sexual and physical assault, and sexual harassment and sexual favours being exchanged for marijuana. He found compelling evidence that at least three women had been raped.
ALA spokesperson Greg Barns (pictured) said the review contradicted government claims that it had no responsibility for the care or welfare of asylum seekers once it shipped them to overseas detention centres.
He said Mr Moss confirmed the underlying role played by the Australian Government in overseeing the Nauru centre by referring issues to the department and making recommendations encouraging Nauru's government to implement change.
“The nature of the recommendations appear to indicate the chain of command,” Mr Barns said.
The Commonwealth could therefore be held legally responsible for any abuse or physical or mental deterioration of people in its care if it could be shown the abuse occurred while they were in detention, he added.
“This report may be of significant relevance in considerations of liability in the future, including vicarious liability.”
According to Mr Barns, the federal government’s treatment of asylum seekers has breached several international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and United Nations regulations on the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1955).