Contributed from New South Wales
Prominent law firm Slater and Gordon is backing refugees, to take the federal government on over detention at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
A spokesperson for Salter and Gordon says this will be “the largest trial concerning immigration detention in Australian legal history.”
The immediate goal is to win compensation for physical and psychological injuries, as well as false imprisonment . It is alleged that the hardline immigration detention policy of the government contravenes the Australian constitution.
The lead plaintiff is an Iranian man who spent several years at Manus. Behind him, there are 1905 others who have been detained since 2012. The case will involve more than 200,000 documents, 104 witnesses and 17 experts.
In addition to the Commonwealth government, security providers, Broad spectrum and Wilson Security and medical services provider International Health & Medical Services are being sued. The case is due to start on 1 May.
All involved hope that bringing the matter before the court will help shed light on Australia’s secretive immigration detention regime and contribute towards bringing it to an end.
“The extraordinary secrecy surrounding the Manus Island detention centre has meant that, for too long, the detainees’ experiences have been a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’,” said the legal firm’s spokesperson.
At stake is whether the principle that all, regardless of origin or opinion, should be treated humanely.
Today, the world is facing the largest refugee exodus since World War Two. Like then, the refugee problem is product war, which has displaced millions of human beings and challenges the world to measure up and respond to the need for the fair resettlement of the victims.
Perhaps this case will help push the Australian government to meet its obligation to be part of the solution.