Lawyers acting for the parents of murdered Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati have welcomed the settlement last week of civil proceedings brought by former Manus Island guard Chandra Osborne, and called on the Australian Government and G4S to now compensate Mr Berati’s family.
Mr Berati was just 23-years-old when he was brutally beaten to death by guards and other local contractors in a violent rampage at the Manus Island Detention Centre that also left 77 other asylum seekers injured. Two men were convicted of his murder by Papua New Guinea’s national court. One of these men was a guard engaged by G4S, through local security company Loda, at the time of the riots.
At least 20 former guards, including Ms Osborne, have subsequently brought legal action against the Government and G4S for trauma sustained from witnessing the violence. While many of these proceedings have been settled, with payouts running into the tens of millions, the Beratis are yet to receive any compensation and continue to face an uphill battle through the courts.
The Australian Senate inquiry which investigated the February 2014 incident found the violence was “eminently foreseeable” and that the Australian Government had failed in its duty to protect those at the centre from harm. It specifically recommended that compensation be provided to Mr Berati’s family for his death, however, this recommendation was never acted upon.
Maurice Blackburn and the Human Rights Law Centre, who are representing the Berati family, said it was disgraceful that eight years after Reza Berati’s murder, those closest to him, his family, had still received no justice.
Keren Adams, Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre:
“Reza Berati was a young man who came to this country seeking safety and was killed by the very people meant to be protecting him. It was an open and shut case of a murder on our government’s watch and there should have been an immediate apology and compensation paid to his family. Instead, his parents have been left ignored and unheard for eight years, traumatised by their son’s murder.
“It is unbelievable that the Government and G4S have been willing to pay millions in compensation to guards who witnessed the violence and yet nothing to the family whose son was actually murdered. No amount of money will ever bring the Berati’s son back, but his parents should not be forced to suffer the added indignity of having to battle through the courts for some small measure of justice.”
Jennifer Kanis, principal lawyer and head of the social justice practice at Maurice Blackburn:
“Reza Berati’s death should never have happened. The Australian Government and the security operator G4S failed in its 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. Their failure to protect the people in their care has led to the tragic death of Reza Berati, and caused devastating harm to his parents.
“It’s been eight years since his death, but his parents feel the pain of his absence every single day. That pain has been compounded by the protracted legal fight they are being forced to embark upon as a result of the Australian Government and G4S’ refusal to offer any compensation for the loss of their son.”
Mr Berati’s parents, Ita Torab Berati and Farideh Baralak, are suing the Australian Government and security operator G4S for the mental harm suffered as a result of their son’s murder.
It is thought to be the first time that civil proceedings have been brought in Australia on behalf of the family of someone who has died in offshore detention.