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Australia Pays Out $53 Million To Refugees Over Treatment In Detention Camps

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The Australian government will pay out $53 million in compensation to 1,905 asylum seekers who filed a lawsuit over the treatment they received in detention camps.

Court procedures were scheduled to begin Wednesday but the government made a last-minute settlement offer to avoid negative attention. The government said it “strongly denied” allegations but that a settlement is the “prudent” decision.

Australia is known for its hardline immigration policies and indefinite detention of people who attempt to enter the country illegally. The asylum seekers claim they’ve suffered physical and psychological harm on the Manaus Island detention center between 2012 and 2016. The detention center is scheduled to close in October after a court ruled its operations are “illegal and unconstitutional.”

“While no amount of money could fully recognize 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,” Andrew Baker, the plaintiffs’ legal representative said in a statement.

The negative attention has not stopped Australia from continuing its hardline immigration approach. Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton announced a crackdown May 21 on “fake refugees” who arrived illegally by boat.

Dutton said 7,500 out of the 50,000 people who have arrived by boat in recent years refused to provide any documents of their identity. The government has given illegal immigrants until Oct. 1 to prove they are legitimate refugees or face deportation from the country.

“Those people who are fake refugees – people who are refusing to provide detail about their claim of protection … we are going to set a deadline for those people, and we have set that deadline for the end of this year in October,” Dutton said, according to 9 News.

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