27 May 2014
Review: no single party can be blamed for violence that led to death of asylum seeker at Manus detention centre
According to an independent review, no single party can be blamed directly for the violence that resulted in the death of the Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati, during a riot in February 2014 at the Manus detention centre. The Australia-backed camp is located in Papua New Guinea. At the time it was run by the British-based security contractor G4S PLC under a contract with Australia.
Ex-civil servant Robert Cornall says in the review that ‘it is not possible to isolate one factor which, if handled differently, may have resulted injuries and damage or to apportion blame for causing the incidents directly to one or more of the parties involved.’ The report says that the unrest was triggered by ‘anxiety and frustration’ at the Australian government’s harsher stance toward asylum seekers. It includes witness reports stating that local contractors, Australian staff and G4S security contractors were involved in the death of Barati. Furthermore, a Papua New Guinean mobile squad police unit was allegedly involved in serious assaults on asylum seekers.
According to Australia’s Green Party immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young, ‘the Abbott government repeatedly ignored warnings from service providers on the island about rising tensions and a lack of security but, tragically, those concerns were ignored.’ Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, says that he has accepted recommendations made by the report, including improved training of local personnel and a better security infrastructure.