Independent inquiry into Manus violence needed
An Australian human rights lawyer is calling for an commission of inquiry type investigation into the violence in the Manus Island asylum seeker camp.
The executive director of Australia's Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre says there must an investigation, with the powers of a commission of inquiry, into the violence at Canberra's asylum seeker detention camp in Papua New Guinea.
David Manne, who is a human rights lawyer, says the Cornal report into the violence that claimed the life of Reza Barati and injured dozens of others on Manus raises more questions than it answers.
He says it exonerates Australian government officials and service providers contracted to it, yet also finds some individuals employed by the service providers committed criminal offences in breach of their employment conditions.
But Mr Manne told Don Wiseman there was no examination or explanation for how these conclusions were reached.
DAVID MANNE: The reality is there was deadly brutality and one man died and yet in the end this report essentially exonerates without in my view rigorous analysis or examination of the Australian Government, its officers, and service providers contracted by the Government. Now, what we need is to look at all of the allegations, look at all these findings and others, look at the evidence and work out who was accountable, who is accountable under law and whether or not these arrangements are in any way capable of meeting the obligations that Australia has to asylum seekers or refugees.
DON WISEMAN: Among the powers that be in Australia is there any movement at all towards something like this?
DM: There doesn't appear to be the political will but I mean it's the Government that essentially set up this inquiry so there doesn't appear to be any clear will at the moment but what is for sure is that there are volumes of evidence including eye witness evidence by aslyum seekers incarcerated on Manus Island in relation to alleged crimes concerning brutality including deadly brutality and that evidence appears from this report itself to still not have been provided to police, which really three months on beggars belief.
DW: One of the immediate outcomes would appear to be an increase in violence in and or around the camp there have been incidents this week between locals and the people in the camp and this report seems to have fostered this?
DM: Well it actually in a sense the report itself does start to set out some of the contributing factors for what occurred in February and indeed those factors might well be relevant to what continues to unfold and it does set out for example contributing factors to the anger, the anxiety and the trauma caused by sending people to Papua New Guinea, by sending them to PNG in a situation where there are substantial delays in the processing of their claims, there is a lack of proper information about the processing of their claims and indeed at its heart deep anxiety, frustration and anger about the uncertainty of people's fate exacerbated by a number of other elements in relation to dealings with PNG nationals and potentially even service providers but look at the end of the day what all of this points to is the need to get to the heart of the predicament here of people being sent from Australia to a situation which to some degree at least is set out in the report to a situation where people are put under such enormous pressure and placed in a situation of such danger and despair that they lose hope and become angry and frustrated and this report simply doesn't in its recommendations go to the heart of those matters.
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