“Preventable” death of Hamid Khazaei exposes politicisation of medical care in offshore detention

“Preventable” death of Hamid Khazaei exposes politicisation of medical care in offshore detention

The Queensland Coroner has found that the death of Hamid Khazaei, a 24 year old man indefinitely detained by the Australian Government on Manus Island, was “preventable” and that if he was evacuated to Australia for medical treatment sooner he would have survived.  

Coroner Terry Ryan found that political considerations were influencing clinical decision-making. Mr Ryan warned that “decisions about medical transfers should be based on clinical considerations” but while “medical staff were working primarily to clinical imperatives”, “the DIBP officers were working primarily to bureaucratic and political imperatives to keep transferees on Manus Island, or in PNG.”

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre who has visited Manus Island three times, said:

“The Coroner’s findings support what doctors and whistleblowers have been saying for months – the denial of essential medical care has become the latest tactic used by Peter Dutton against the refugees he continues to detain on Manus and Nauru.”

Mr Webb said that the Government’s persistent delay or outright refusal to evacuate highly vulnerable people to Australia for urgent medical care was a cynical move designed to keep people beyond the reach of the Australian justice system and to minimise legal and democratic scrutiny of their suffering.

“In just the last few months the Minister has tried to force a 63 year old refugee with terminal cancer to die a slow and agonising death on Nauru instead of bringing him to Australia for palliative care. He  has even fought in our courts to deny care to a 10 year old child who had repeatedly tried to kill themselves,” said Mr Webb.

 “The Australian Government has a clear legal and moral responsibility for the 1600 people – including 120 children – it continues to detain on Manus and Nauru. It’s been five years. Our Government can’t just imprison people on remote islands forever. These men, women and children deserve a future,” said Mr Webb.

For interviews please call:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519