A substantial class action lawsuit has been settled on behalf of more than 120 Indonesians who claim that Australia imprisoned them as adults despite the fact that they were just youngsters.
The victims, who were imprisoned and, in some cases, charged as people traffickers, will get compensation from the government totaling more than A$27 million (£14 million or $17 million).
Some of the children were as young as 12 when they were taken into custody. Others were older.
It is the most recent in a series of incidents that can be linked to the policy that the Australian government has regarding asylum seekers.
Sam Tierney, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, was quoted as saying, “It’s fair to say that we’re delighted to have gotten this outcome… this has been 10 years in the making,” while referring to the verdict.
After landing in Australia on people smuggling boats, the majority of the applicants who are part of the class action complaint were held in detention on Christmas Island or in Darwin between 2009 and 2012. This took place between 2009 and 2012.
They claim that they were coaxed onto the boats as minors by promises of well-paid labour, but that at the time, they had no idea where the boats were going or that they would be used to transport people seeking refuge.
If any of the crew members on those vessels were discovered to be minors, then Australian law at the time required that they be sent back to the countries where they were born rather than being charged with a crime.
However, in order to determine the ages of the minors, the authorities relied on an X-ray of the wrist, which has now been disputed, and they locked up everyone who they believed to be older than 18 years old.
In 2012, the Australian Human Rights Commission published a seminal report in which it determined that the boys’ rights had been violated on multiple occasions and that their cases had been improperly handled.
The primary plaintiff, Mr. Ali Jasmin, accused the Australian government authorities who were involved in his case of both carelessness and prejudice based on his race.
In recent years, the government of Australia has reached settlements in multiple lawsuits alleging wrongful detention.
In 2017, they reached an agreement to pay a total of A$70 million in compensation to over 1,700 asylum seekers and refugees for unlawfully keeping them on Manus Island in perilous conditions.
Five years later, it also settled a case involving an Iraqi asylum seeker who was found to have been unlawfully kept for more than two years in an immigration detention center with a A$350,000 settlement. The case involved an asylum seeker who was imprisoned in an immigration center against his will for more than two years.
The settlement that was reached on Thursday – which does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing – must first receive the final permission of the Federal Court in order for it to be paid out.