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Berati family sues Oz govt over Manus murder

Reza Barati
Reza Barati was just 23 when bashed to death by Australian guards at a refugee camp on Manus

KEITH JACKSON

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.

Memento (Lukas Coch  AAP)
A trophy in Scott Morrison's office. Far from showing compassion for the brutal treatment meted out to asylum seekers, Australia's prime minister regards his role as a personal triumph (Lukas Coch AAP)

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.”

Comments

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William Dunlop

Of course, Philip, the original concentration camps were in South Africa, an invention of British imperialism during the Boer war era. Kitchener and his ilk.

Nevertheless, the Boers went on to teach them a thing or three on how to conduct guerilla warfare, as did The Big Fella in Ireland.

I'm talking of course about Michael Collins. Not to be confused with the Long Fella Dev, who was languishing in Lincoln Gaol until Collins broke him out, smuggling Dev to America where he then languished in the Waldorf Astoria for two years - thus avoiding the heavy fighting in Ireland.

They have a story in the auld sod about this. Wasn't he not in exile raising funds for the cause. Of which $3 million got channelled into the Irish Free Press, a business of Devs as it turned out.

Freya Dinshaw | Senior Lawyer, Human Rights Law Centre

Dear Keith - The Human Rights Law Centre and Maurice Blackburn are representing the Berati family in legal action to hold the Australian Government and G4S to account.

The case will ensure that those responsible for the systemic failures of Australia’s offshore detention regime that led to Reza’s needless death are forced to account for their actions.

This work is only possible because of your ongoing support, so thank you so much for helping fight for justice for people harmed by Australia’s brutal offshore detention regime.

Together, we will continue demanding that humanity be restored to Australia's migration policies.

https://www.hrlc.org.au/

Philip Fitzpatrick

When I first visited the detention centre on Manus in 2014, my immediate impression was that it resembled a concentration camp.

It was a deeply unsettling experience that I haven't forgotten. It also made me feel ashamed to be an Australian.

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