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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Immigrant sues Australia government
Asylum seekers hold signs stand on the refugee detention centres roof in protest at Woomera in Australia's Outback, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2002.
Australia's detention camps have been heavily criticised
A 10-year-old Iranian boy has launched a landmark legal case against the Australian government.

Shayan Badraie claims his time in immigrant detention camps caused catastrophic mental health problems.

He is the first person to seek compensation for the experience of being detained in Australia.

Nearly 4,000 children have been held in Australia's detention camps for migrants in the past five years, and this case is likely to be the first of many.

Through his father Mahommad Saeed Badraie, Shayan is suing the Immigration Department and two detention centre operators.

"This case is not about the policy of mandatory detention," his lawyer Andrew Morrison told the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney on Monday.

"It is about the way in which it was carried out, and the permanent injury inflicted on a young child by a regime which failed to provide for his medical needs," Mr Morrison is quoted as saying.

Harsh conditions

The Badraie family arrived among a boatload of immigrants in early 2000, when Shayan was five.

Authorities put the family behind the razor-wire fences of a remote detention camp in the outback.

According to his lawyers, Shayan saw riots broken up with tear gas and water cannons, watched as people tried to commit suicide and was exposed to hunger strikes at the camp.

He endured conditions that no child nor human being should be expected to cope with, his lawyers say.

His parents claim Shayan has a condition which leaves him sitting in silence for days, refusing to eat or drink, and he frequently needs hospital treatment to survive.

Three years ago, the Australian Human Rights Commission ruled that Shayan's detention was unjust.

The body recommended the government pay compensation and the costs of psychiatric treatment - but the government declined.

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