Manus detainees get $70m in compensation

Current and former Manus Island detainees will receive $70 million in a class action settlement. (AAP)

The Australian government and operators of the Manus Island detention centre will pay $70 million in compensation to detainees in settlement of a class action.

Detainees who say they have endured hell on Manus Island will share $70 million in compensation but the government maintains none will find homes in Australia.

The 1905 current and former Manus Island detainees say their voices are finally being heard after they secured what is believed to be the largest human rights class action settlement in Australia.

The government and operators of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre settled the class action for $70 million plus costs estimated at more than $20 million, without any admission of liability.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Andrew Baker said the settlement was an important step towards recognising the extremely hostile conditions the detainees endured on Manus Island.

"For many of the detainees the only options they faced were to return home where they faced persecution, jail or even death, or to stay at Manus Island," Mr Baker told reporters on Wednesday.

"While no amount of money could fully recognise 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."

The case was settled on the day a six-month trial was due to begin in the Victorian Supreme Court, which Immigation Minister Peter Dutton said would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees alone with an unknown outcome.

"In such circumstances a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers," Mr Dutton said.

He said the settlement was not an admission of liability in any regard, and the Commonwealth strongly refuted and denied the claims in the proceeding.

It will also not change the government's stance on the approximately 860 men who remain on Manus Island and others in immigration detention on Nauru.

"None of the illegal maritime arrivals on Manus Island or in Nauru will ever be settled in Australia," Mr Dutton said.

Up to 1250 of the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru are expected to be offered resettlement under Australia's deal with the United States.

Amnesty International and others called for the 2000 people held in offshore detention to be brought to Australia.

"Financial compensation alone is not enough," Amnesty's Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze said.

"The reality is this deal does not change the immediate situation for the people trapped on Manus and Nauru."

Slater and Gordon practice group manager Rory Walsh said the class action settlement would have no effect on the Manus detainees' applications for asylum.

The Refugee Council of Australia is among those who believe the government settled the case to avoid public evidence coming out during the trial.

"The Australian government have folded today as they know an independent judicial examination of the practice of offshore detention would shine a light on how brutal, damaging and inhumane these practices are," the council's Tim O'Connor said.

Lead plaintiff Majid Kamasaee, a 35-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, said the detainees were treated in a degrading and cruel way on Manus.

"I came to Australia seeking peace but I was sent to Manus, which was hell," he said.

The group members, who represent the majority of people held on Manus Island since 2012, claimed damages for false imprisonment and for alleged physical and psychological injuries they argue they suffered as a result of the conditions in which they were held.

Source AAP

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