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    A sign adorns the security fence near shelters inside the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea, February 11, 2017

    Australia Agrees to Pay $53 Million in Compensation to Asylum Seekers on Manus

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    Canberra will pay 70 million Australian dollars ($53 million) without admission of liability to refugees who were seeking compensation for alleged hostile conditions and unlawful detention in the Manus Island detention center, according to media reports.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Australian government agreed to pay 70 million Australian dollars ($53 million) without admission of liability to refugees who were seeking compensation for alleged hostile conditions and unlawful detention in the Manus Island detention center, media reports said Wednesday, adding that Canberra will also pay 20 million dollars in legal costs.

    "While no amount of money could fully recognize the terrible conditions the detainees endured, we hope today's settlement can begin to provide them with an opportunity to help put this dark chapter of their lives behind them," Slater and Gordon legal firm lawyer Andrew Baker, who represented the refugees, was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

    Baker emphasized that most migrants left their countries due to religious prosecution and violence, but faced mistreatment and hostile conditions in the Manus Island detention center.

    In December 2014, over 1,900 refugees and asylum seekers who had been held at the Manus center since 2012 commenced a class action against Australian authorities. The migrants claimed that they were unlawfully detained, and that they suffered both physically and psychologically. The trial was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, but the government agreed to settle the lawsuit.

    Slater and Gordon stated that the victims will be entitled to compensation for the period of wrongful detention and losses suffered during detention. The exact amount of money to be paid to each migrant will not be disclosed.

    All migrants arriving to Australia without a visa are subject to mandatory detention. The country also uses offshore processing, sending refugees to Nauru, a small island country in Micronesia, or Manus in Papua New Guinea, while their claims are being studied. Such measures have been repeatedly criticized by different human rights watchdogs.


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