Official silence on deportation
By SCOTT McKENZIE
OFFICIALS yesterday refused to say whether more boat people pursuing injury claims against the Government would be deported, after it emerged that recommendations had been made for many to be awarded settlements.
It is understood the majority of 388 people seeking compensation for injuries sustained or personal belongings lost in a raid on the Whitehead detention centre more than a year ago have been forcibly repatriated and may never receive their payments.
The South China Morning Post revealed yesterday the Legal Department's advice was to pay all those who sustained injuries as a result of tear-gas fired during the raid on April 7, last year.
They were to be paid on the basis of the Government not having to admit liability.
An internal government memo seen by the Post indicated the opinion was largely based on the findings of a Justices of the Peace report completed in June last year.
Refugee Concern lawyer Pam Baker expressed outrage at the delay because many people who would have been eligible for payment had been deported.
Saying the issue 'may become the subject of legal proceedings', a government spokesman refused to comment on whether applicants for legal aid would continue to be deported.
A legislative inquiry next week will look at whether there was a specific policy to deport people with outstanding claims for compensation.