Australia and Papua New Guinea: New evidence details brutal treatment of asylum seekers

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Source: Amnesty International NZ – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Australia and Papua New Guinea: New evidence details brutal treatment of asylum seekers

New evidence submitted to a Senate Inquiry by Amnesty International into violence at the Manus Island offshore processing centre details an appalling level of brutal and excessively harsh treatment of asylum seekers.

In its submission the organisation details witness testimony and other evidence relating to the tragic events that led to the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati and left 147 people injured in February this year.

“The Australian and PNG governments share responsibility for the violence which led to the death of Reza Berati and must prevent further violence from happening.

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“They must guarantee the safety of the asylum seekers detained there and provide adequate medical and rehabilitative programs to those injured in the recent violence”, said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International Pacific researcher.

“Under the MOU both governments committed to treat transferees with dignity and respect. This has tragically not been the case.”

A witness to the death of Reza Berati told Amnesty International that, “they hit him, he fell from here (pointing to the stairs outside Reza Berati’s room) and they hit him in the head until he died”.

First hand witness accounts from detainees and contract staff given to Amnesty International and evidence gathered during its second visit to the centre in March details the brutal and excessive force used by local police and security staff on 16-18 February.

“The witnesses we spoke to on our return visit to Manus Island showed visible signs of trauma and expressed fears for their safety,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International Pacific Researcher.

“They must be moved immediately to Australia for their safety and protection and the centre must be closed down.”

Amnesty International received reports that 350 of the 400 people living in Mike compound were beaten, and that 147 people received serious injuries – a figure much higher than official Australian government figures – included serious lacerations to the head and neck, broken bones (including facial fractures) and severe bruising.

Many have reported to Amnesty International that they have still not received adequate medical care and that conditions have not improved.

“When we visited the processing centre in November 2013, we found asylum seekers enduring unacceptably harsh conditions and humiliating treatment.

“Four months later this remains the case with little or no improvement to accommodation and amenities including toilet blocks that are dilapidated, dirty and mouldy with several broken or without running water.

“P Dorm, which Amnesty International previously found violated international law, specifically the prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment, continues to be in use, with no improvements made to the accommodation.

“It is clear that the Australian government cannot to guarantee the safety of the asylum seekers detained there and therefore the centre must be closed”, said Kate Schuetze.

“In addition Papua New Guinea should not be adopting Australia’s cruel and degrading immigration detention practices, in violation of international human rights law and its national Constitution,” said Kate Schuetze.

Background

Amnesty International visited the Manus Island detention centre in November 2013 as part of the organisation’s research on Australian immigration detention on and offshore facilities.

During that visit, the organisation documented a host of human rights violations and abuses, which were documented in the report ‘This is Breaking People’. The organisation made 77 recommendations which it presented to the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments in December last year, calling for urgent action.

Neither government has indicated any progress on addressing these recommendations.

 

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