Iranian refugee sues Australian Government over immigration detention assault and trauma

27 February 2014
Leading social justice law firm Maurice Blackburn has issued proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria against the Australian Government on behalf of an Iranian refugee who says he was assaulted and treated harshly while in immigration detention.

The man, who has asked not to be named, arrived in Australia in November 2009 and was held in immigration detention for more than two years, first at Christmas Island and later at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre.

In a statement of claim filed with the court, it is alleged that while in detention he was separated from his father, placed in solitary confinement for punishment, and seriously assaulted by five detention centre officers.

The 31-year-old was also exposed to riots at Villawood, observed suicides by other detainees, and attempted suicide four times.

He was found to be a genuine refugee in March 2011, but was not released from detention until December 2011 - more than nine months later.

Maurice Blackburn principal Kim Shaw, said the Government had failed in its duty to provide a safe and appropriate detention environment.

"Our client was living in jail-like conditions for more than two years under the constant threat of deportation to a country where he genuinely feared he would be persecuted.

"While in immigration detention, his mental health deteriorated significantly, but the Government failed to provide adequate mental health treatment and care.

"The Government also failed to protect our client from assaults and trauma, which has left him with serious injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and disfigurement."

On behalf of the refugee, Maurice Blackburn is seeking damages for his pain and suffering, loss of future earning capacity and medical expenses. 

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