NOOSA – The parents of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati, who died in February 2014 after being brutally beaten at an Australian-run detention centre, have begun legal action over his death.
Berati was 23 when killed by guards in a violent riot at the Manus Island camp that injured 77 other asylum seekers.
Australia’s immigration minister at the time, Scott Morrison, was central in designing the harsh border protection policy to deter asylum seeker boats landing in Australia.
The policy drew worldwide condemnation and Morrison, now prime minister, has never stepped back from it nor conceded its brutality.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn and the Human Rights Law Centre (HLRC) are representing the Berati family in its court action.
An Australian Senate inquiry which investigated the murder found the violence was “eminently foreseeable” and that the Australian government had failed in its duty to protect Berati from harm.
It recommended that compensation be paid to Berati’s family, but this advice was not fulfilled.
Now Berati’s parents Ita Torab Berati and Farideh Baralak are suing the government and security company G4S for wrongful death and mental harm suffered as a result of their son’s murder.
The case, filed in the Victorian Supreme Court, is thought to be the first proceedings in Australia on behalf of the family of a person who has died in offshore detention.
“Reza Berati’s death should never have happened,” said Jennifer Kanis, principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn. “The Australian government and the security operator G4S failed in [their] 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.”
“Reza Berati’s murder has become a symbol of both the brutality and impunity of the offshore detention system,” said Keren Adams, HLRC legal director.
“He came to this country seeking safety and was killed by the very people meant to be protecting him. His parents have been left ignored and unheard, traumatised by their son’s murder.
“These proceedings can’t bring back their son, but they can ensure that those ultimately responsible for his death are finally forced to account for their actions.”
“Reza was our only son. He was an ethical and good person who cared about his family deeply,” said. Torab Berati, Reza Berati’s father.
“Our family is heartbroken and we have been suffering for so long with his death. We won’t recover from our loss.
“I do not want the human rights of my child to be ignored or forgotten by the world.
“I want the international community to protect the rights of my son. I want justice for my son.
“I don’t want his death to be insignificant.”