Jurisdiction will be issue for Australian Manus inquiry
Australian senate inquiry into Manus asylum seeker camp may be hampered by a lack of jurisdiction.
An Australian Senate Inquiry into violent clashes at the asylum seeker detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island may have hit its first hurdle - travelling to PNG.
The inquiry, which is scheduled for April, is hoping to travel to Manus to speak to guards, officials and detainees at the centre to work out what happened last month during two nights of violence that left 23-year-old Reza Berati dead.
But an adviser at the PNG Prime Minister's office says that might not be possible, and detainees could instead be flown to Canberra.
Jamie Tahana reports.
The parliamentary Senate Inquiry was established last week to investigate violence at the Australian-run detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island that left one man dead and over 60 others injured.
The inquiry was initiated by the Greens' senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and will be opposition-led.
At the time, Ms Hanson-Young said asylum seekers at the centre will be invited to give their accounts of the violence under parliamentary privilege, and the inquiry's members hoped to travel to the centre.
But a media adviser for the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's office, Daniel Korimbao, says there could be difficulties with this because the Australian Senate doesn't have jurisdiction in PNG.
DANIEL KORIMBAO: Can a Senate Inquiry just fly into New Zealand announce an inquiry? They need clearance and all those kinds of things to run an inquiry and hold this kind of investigation in a different jurisdiction.
Mr Korimbao says Australia should instead pay for detainees to fly to Canberra to give their witness accounts of the violence to the committee.
DANIEL KORIMBAO: It is within the powers of the Senate Inquiry to fly the transferees to Australia to interview them if they want to know more about what happened on that night in Manus.
A spokesperson for the Immigration minister, Scott Morrison, told Fairfax media that it was a matter for the committee on whether asylum seekers could be flown to Australia and who would foot the bill.
But a psychology professor at Monash University, Louise Newman, says flying asylum seekers to Australia to give evidence is a terrible idea which could cause enormous emotional distress.
LOUISE NEWMAN: I think this is a very difficult suggestion in that people who are highly distressed and traumatised, who want to come to the Australian mainland, will be flown over, asked to disclose and give accounts of presumably very distressing events and then sent back to the very site of those events. So from a psychological point of view that's a really quite a high risk situation.
The Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, could not be reached for comment.
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