First published July 30
The coroner’s finding in regard to the death of Hamid Khazaie have damned the government’s offshore detention policy.
The coroner noted that the Pacific Solution Mark II version of offshore detention was created after the Expert Panel reported to the Gillard government in 2012 and deliberately included “disincentives” to asylum seekers arriving by boat.
While the coroner did not attribute responsibility to any particular individual, had Hamid’s ‘rapid deterioration been recognised, and responded to in a timely manner’, Hamid would still be alive.
“The coroner has confirmed what the refugee movement has said all along; the lack of proper medical treatment and the bureaucratic delays killed Hamid,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
In particular, the coroner called for the Department of Home Affairs to produce a written policy on dealing with medical transfers and that approval for transfers should be entirely a matter for treating doctors. And that the cost of medical transfers should not be a consideration.
At the end of June, Border Force overrode recommendations that a critically ill two-year old on Nauru was taken to Port Moresby rather than Australia as doctors had recommended. It took a federal court order to finally force the Australian government to bring her and her parents to Australia.
The Coroner’s finding also put the lie to the government’s repeated claim that offshore medical care is anything like what is available in the Australian community; stating that the care available on Manus was even “not commensurate with a clinic in remote Cape York”.
“We call on the government to commit to accepting the Coroner’s recommendations that would immediately save lives on Manus and Nauru,” said Rintoul.
“Having offshore medical clinics that were accredited to established Australian standards (and subject to independent oversight) would mean that refugees would get more than panadol and contemptuous dismissal.
“At the moment Border Force decisions are overriding doctors’ recommendations and are preventing physically and mentally sick people being transferred to get the treatment they urgently need.
“The coroner also made it clear that deaths could be prevented by relocation to places like Australia and New Zealand, where there are suitable health systems in place.
“The government’s offshore detention polices and Peter Dutton’s apologetics for the abuse stand condemned by the coroner’s findings. The responsibility for Hamid’s death lies with the government.
“The only way we can guarantee there will be no more Hamid’s, is to close Manus and Nauru and bring all asylum seekers and refugees to Australia.”
*Behrouz Boochani held on Manus Island for the Refugee Action Coalition.
A statement from Behrouz Boochani on Manus Island regarding today’s finding is pasted below.
All of us detained for years on Manus and Nauru have been waiting for justice. For a long time we have been asking Australian courts and independent organisations to investigate the deaths in these prison camps, there are enough documents and witnesses to prove the harsh living conditions and lack of medical care. We think what has happened in the court today is a big step toward justice and we ask once again that the courts and independent human rights organisations continue investigating the deaths on Manus and Nauru. We ask again that Australia close these prison camps and let us start a new life in freedom.