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Australia settles suit with detainee Iranian child

Written by: Staff
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SYDNEY, Mar 3 (Reuters) Australia has accepted that an Iranian boy kept in immigration camps ringed by razor-wire had suffered psychological damage and paid compensation to settle the court case, officials and lawyers said today.

Shayan Badraie's family and lawyers said the 11-year-old boy developed post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing suicide attempts and violence at two detention facilities, where he was held along with his parents.

He was aged between 5 and 7 at the time.

''I can only hope that the government takes notice of this and doesn't continue to spend taxpayer money on having to compensate people for treating them in a disgraceful way in immigration detention,'' lawyer Rebecca Gilsenan told reporters.

A spokesman for Australia's Immigration Department said the department had agreed to pay the Badraie family A400,000 (296,000 dollars) and costs for the case, which ran for 64 days since it began last September.

''It was never the department's preference for the Badraie family to go through lengthy court proceedings,'' he said.

Badraie and his family were kept behind razor wire at the Villawood centre in Sydney and the Woomera immigration in outback South Australia state between 2000 and 2002.

Gilsenan said the boy had required hospital care after several episodes when he refused to eat, drink or talk following the detention. She said he still needs care.

''He witnessed a series of incredibly traumatic and violent events, the sort of events no adult or no child should be exposed to,'' Gilsenan said.

''Within a year of being detained at the detention centre, or even 9 months ... he had developed psychiatric illness to the point of diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and later depression,'' she said.

Badraie and his family were granted refugee status in 2002 and have since become permanent residents of Australia.

Australia is a nation built on migration but still has some of the toughest policies in the world against illegal immigration, policies which have helped conservative Prime Minister John Howard win four straight elections.

The policies include the mandatory detention of illegal arrivals, illegal workers and people who overstay their visas in detention camps, often for years while their cases are heard.

The camps have been condemned by international human rights groups.

The government released the last 42 children from detention centres last July after an internal revolt against Howard's tough stance.

REUTERS PR SP1022

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