The inquiry was sparked by the illegal detention of mentally ill Australian resident Cornelia Rau
Govt flags compensation for 191 wrongful detentions
Posted Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:28pm AEDT
Updated Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:31pm AEDT
The Federal Government may compensate as many as 191 people for wrongfully holding them in immigration detention centres, a parliamentary hearing has been told.
A Government ombudsman last year reported that 247 Australian citizens, permanent residents and legal visa holders were incorrectly detained by the Immigration Department between 1993 and 2007.
The inquiry was sparked by the illegal detention of mentally ill Australian resident Cornelia Rau for more than 10 months in 2004 and 2005 and the wrongful deportation of Australian citizen Vivian Solon to the Philippines.
The chief lawyer for the department, Robyn Bicket, said the department had now reviewed all the cases.
"Currently we are at 191 cases [where] we believe there is risk of legal liability for compensation and 56 cases where we believe there is no compensatable risk involved," she told a Senate estimates hearing.
Ms Bicket said that the department had offered compensation in 40 cases and settlements had been reached in 17 instances.
The Immigration Department says it has paid out just over $4 million in the past financial year to 14 Australian citizens who were wrongfully held.
More than half the money was paid to Cornelia Rau.
The payouts are separate from the $1.2 million the department has paid to 17 other Australians who were also wrongfully detained.
The Howard government adopted a controversial policy towards asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, making immigration detention mandatory even for children.