July 31, 2018
A coroner in Australia says the death of a 24-year-old Iranian asylum-seeker held on a remote Pacific island immigration-detention center in 2014 was “entirely preventable.”
In a ruling issued on July 30, the Queensland state coroner blamed the death of Hamid Kehazaei on the “compounding effect of multiple errors” and called on the Australian government to put the health of detainees first.
Kehazaei died in an Australian hospital in September 2014 after inadequate treatment of an ulcer on his left leg, the coroner said in announcing the results of a two-week inquest conducted in 2016-17.
The man contracted the ulcer inside the detention center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Kehazaei suffered a heart attack and organ failure after the infection developed into sepsis before he was eventually evacuated to a hospital in Brisbane, where he was declared brain dead.
Queensland state coroner Terry Ryan said that “a series of clinical errors, compounded by failures in communication” had led to significant delays in Kehazaei being transferred to Australia.
“I am satisfied that if Mr. Khazaei’s clinical deterioration was recognized and responded to in a timely way at the Manus Island regional processing center clinic and he was evacuated to Australia within 24 hours of developing severe sepsis, he would have survived,” Ryan said.
Australia detains asylum-seekers in offshore detention centers, such as PNG’s Manus Island and on the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru. The effort is designed to deter migrants from attempting to reach Australia by boat.