Appointment of new manager at PNGs Manus camp criticised
The appointment of a former Sri Lankan military commander as a manager at the Manus Island asylum seeker camp has been criticised.
A human rights advocate says it was inappropriate to choose a former Sri Lankan military commander to run Australia's asylum seeker detention centre in Papua New Guinea.
The Sri Lankan official, Dinesh Perera, has been working for the security firm G4S as the acting manager of operations at the camp on Manus Island.
The Director of Advocacy and Research at the Australian Human Rights Law Centre, Emily Howie, told Jamie Tahana that while there are no specific allegations against Mr Perera, the appointment of someone with his background shows a callous disregard for asylum seekers.
EMILY HOWIE: We think it's absolutely inappropriate for a person whose background is in the military of a country from which asylum seekers are fleeing to have the care and custody of the asylum seekers in the Manus Island facility.
JAMIE TAHANA: But Mr Perera himself, do we know any specific thing about him. Why he shouldn't be in charge here?
EH: We don't have any history of Mr Perera himself, or allegations of wrongdoing by him in particular. This is about the inappropriateness of a man of his background having this particular kind of position. When you're acting as a carer, as a warden of these very vulnerable people who are being held in a detention facility there needs to be people who are appropriately trained. We don't think that a military background is the appropriate training, and certainly not somebody whose military background is actually from the very country that these people are fleeing from. We hear that there are 30 Tamils that are being held on Manus Island inside that facility. For them, having someone with a Sri Lankan military background would be potentially a very threatening thing indeed. Having someone from the Sri Lankan military shows either a failure by the government or the management companies to do due diligence about the people it is hiring, or a callous disregard for the kinds of suffering and real risks that the asylum seekers are fleeing from. These are very vulnerable people, we need to keep that at the front of mind all the time. The mistake needs to be rectified immediately.
JT: You're calling for him to go?
EH: We're calling for two things. First; we think the events of last week which resulted in the death of one person and serious injuries to many others has led to the only option for the Australian government being to close the Manus Island facility. The immigration minister has to satisfy Australians now that he's able to keep the detainees there safe and well and that has not been proved over the last week. Secondly, of course, Mr Perera cannot continue to hold that kind of position where he is responsible for the welfare of detainees and the management companies need to do some immediate, urgent checks to make sure there aren't other inappropriately qualified people in charge of these vulnerable asylum seekers.
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