Adjudication without Frontiers
Edited by Horatia Muir Watt, Lucia Bíziková, Agatha Brandão de Oliveira and Diego P. Fernandez Arroyo
Chapter 27: Privatisation of international migration flows: Manus Island class action
Kamasaee v. Commonwealth & Ors, also known as the Manus Island class action, is the largest settlement in the field of human rights in Australian legal history. The settlement marks a potentially important step for the recognition and application of migrants’ rights in the present context, where States go out of their way to avoid responsibilities towards refugees and asylum seekers. It arose out of the allegations of false imprisonments of refugees held at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre between 21 November 2012 and 12 May 2016. The decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria to approve the settlement for compensation reached between the plaintiffs and the Australian Government in June 2017 came more than a year after the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea had ruled that the centre was illegal and unconstitutional. In December 2014, Majid Karami Kamasaee, an Iranian refugee, brought an action against the Commonwealth of Australia and two other defendants for the failure to take reasonable care of people held at Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. He claimed damages for himself and almost 2,000 asylum seekers for the consequences arising out of their transfer from Australia and subsequent confinement in the centre located in the Los Negros Island in Papua New Guinea. According to Mr Kamasaee’s claim, the asylum seekers detained in the centre suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the Government’s negligence. Later on, a second claim for false imprisonment was also added.
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