Australia failed to protect asylum-seekers - Report

2014-12-11 12:04
Sri Lankan asylum seekers sent back by Australia prepare to enter the magistrate's court in the southern port district of Galle. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP)

Sri Lankan asylum seekers sent back by Australia prepare to enter the magistrate's court in the southern port district of Galle. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - The Australian government failed in its duty to protect asylum-seekers at a camp in Papua New Guinea where a February riot left one dead and 69 injured, said a damning parliamentary report released on Thursday.

Iranian Reza Barati was killed in the riot at the Manus Island detention centre in February as tensions flared among inmates about their fate under Australia's hardline asylum-seeker policies.

Sixty-nine other were injured in the violence that the Australian Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee branded "eminently foreseeable" and mostly caused by delays in processing refugee claims.

"It is clear from evidence presented to the committee that the Australian government failed in its duty to protect asylum-seekers including Mr. Barati from harm," the 188-page report concluded.

"The committee has found that the events, were eminently foreseeable, and may have been prevented if transferees had been given a clear pathway for the assessment of their asylum claims."

A separate independent review on behalf of the Australian government released in May found that Barati was "brutally beaten" to death by a Salvation Army worker, and warned of a major task to rebuild trust.

PNG police in August charged two men over his murder.


Manus Island houses one of two remote Pacific camps used by Canberra in its tough offshore detention policy. The other is on Nauru.

A total of 2 151 asylum-seekers are held at the facilities, according to immigration figures ending 31 October.

Under Canberra's immigration policy, asylum-seekers arriving by boat are transferred to the centres for processing and if their asylum application is successful they are permanently resettled outside Australia.

Only one boat has reached the Australian mainland since December, compared to almost daily arrivals previously under the Labour administration.

The committee, which is dominated by the opposition Labour and Greens parties, called on the Australian government to assist PNG police in their investigations into the riot and respect the human rights of the people detained at the processing centre.

They also urged the government to compensate Barati's family, asylum-seekers injured in the violence and others who have suffered human rights violations.

Two members of the six-person committee who are part of the ruling conservative coalition disagreed with the findings and blamed the previous Labour government for the problems at Manus Island.

Rights group Amnesty International said the report painted "yet another damning picture of Australia's treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers" and said there was an urgent need to end offshore processing policies.

"While the human rights organisation welcomes the report findings, the obvious failure of both governments to accept they share responsibility for the serious incident remains," Amnesty's refugee coordinator Graham Thom said in a statement.

Read more on:    ai  |  australia

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.