Australian gov't rejects 24 proposals of own agency to pay family of dead Irani.
Rahimi had left behind a wife and two children. Friends said he fretted about how they were surviving in Iran without his income. Rahimi wanted to live in the community to work, pay taxes and send some money home.
He had been diagnosed with severe depression, and doctors wanted him released from the Villawood detention center. But the federal government kept Rahimi detained for almost two years, until what the coroner described as his "sad death."
The federal government has rejected Australian Human Rights Commission findings that Rahimi should never have been kept at Villawood, and his family should now be paid compensation.
A Fairfax Media analysis found that, since the current government came to power in 2013, it has refused all 24 recommendations by the commission to pay compensation of up to $400,000.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection says in the past five years it has not paid any person compensation for detention.
The case raises fresh human rights concerns over Australia's onshore detention network, which in September held 2,044 asylum seekers and refugees. That figure included Iranian Fazel Chegeni, who this month escaped the Christmas Island detention center and was found dead at the bottom of a cliff. He was thought to be suffering mental health problems.
"Boat people"--that is, people arriving without visas by boat--have been a huge political issue for years in Australia. There is little support for them. But Rahimi arrived in Australia by plane, without a visa, in April 2010. He claimed to have suffered political persecution. He was placed in detention and applied for a protection visa, but it was refused.
The Human Rights Commission said Rahimi appeared to be struggling in detention. He was diagnosed with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychiatrists urged that Rahimi, who did not pose a security threat, be allowed to live in the community where he could work and send money to his family.
The coroner in the state of New South Wales found Rahimi received appropriate medical care and died of natural causes, a ruptured aorta.
The commission said it was "not necessary" to keep Rahimi in detention after he received a security clearance, and the department "has not explained why Rahimi could not reside in the community or in a less restrictive form of detention while his immigration status was resolved." It recommended the Commonwealth pay compensation to his estate.
The department said Rahimi's detention was lawful and there was no legal basis for even considering compensation.
Michael Dudley, a psychiatrist who treated Rahimi, said Rahimi was "absolutely" stressed in detention by the prospect of returning to Iran, where his brother had been executed.
"There's certainly a relationship between anxiety, depression and heart disease; that's well recognized," he said, adding that authorities routinely ignored advice from doctors that vulnerable detainees be allowed to live in the community.
The government was "relying on reliable public indifference to get away with this," Dr. Dudley said.