Parents sue over asylum seeker murder

The parents of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati are suing the Australian government over his death.
The parents of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati are suing the Australian government over his death.

The parents of an asylum seeker murdered in an offshore detention centre are suing the Australian Government over his death.

Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati, 23, was beaten to death by guards and other workers during a violent confrontation at the Manus Island detention centre in 2014.

His parents, Ita Torab Berati and Farideh Baralak, have filed a civil claim in the Victorian Supreme Court seeking exemplary damages from the Commonwealth and security contractor G4S for wrongful death and mental harm.

It's believed to be the first time a case has been filed in Australian courts on behalf of someone who has died in offshore detention.

In a statement released to the media on Monday, Reza Berati's father Torab said Reza was his only son, and cared deeply for his family.

"Our family is heartbroken and we have been suffering for so long with his death," he said.

"I want justice for my son, I don't want his death to be insignificant."

More than 60 other asylum seekers were injured during two days of unrest during February 2014.

According to court documents, Reza Berati was returning to his bedroom on February 17 after gunshots had been fired in his compound, when a local detention centre worker in a G4S uniform hit him from behind with a long stick.

He fell and was surrounded by ten men who kicked him in the head.

Two men found guilty of his murder were jailed for 10 years in Papua New Guinea's National Court.

The Berazi family's statement of claim shows that in the six months leading up to the incident, tensions had increased at the detention centre, and the number of detainees had increased tenfold - from 130 in July 2013 to 1340 in February 2014.

The detention centre had been built to house 500 people.

It's alleged the Commonwealth knew or should have known there was "a high likelihood of tensions rising and violent protests occurring", due to the overcrowding.

For its part, G4S had provided "numerous reports" about the "dangerously hostile situation and risk of violence" in the weeks leading up to the incident, it's claimed.

A senate inquiry found the violence was "eminently foreseeable" and blamed the riots on delays in processing asylum seeker claims.

It recommended the Berati family should be paid compensation, but their lawyers said no compensation has yet been paid.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Jennifer Kanis said the Australian Government and security operator G4S had failed in their duty of care.

"Their failure to protect these people in their care has led to the tragic death of Reza Berati, and caused devastating harm to his parents," she said.

The Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Keren Adams, said Reza Berati's death has become a symbol of the brutality of the offshore detention system.

"These proceedings can't bring back their son, but they can ensure that those ultimately responsible for his death are finally forced to account for their actions," she said.

The Department of Home Affairs told AAP in a statement that as the matter is before the court it is not appropriate to comment.

G4S has also been contacted for a response.

Australian Associated Press