THE Secretary General of Amnesty International has called on the Australian and Papua New Guinean Prime Ministers to immediately remove asylum seekers to safety on the Australian mainland, following the tragic death of 23-year-old Iranian man Reza Barati and the injury of at least 62 other asylum-seekers at the Manus Island detention centre last month.
Whilst welcoming the announcement of PNG’s judicial inquiry into the violence, the Secretary General Salil Shetty and his co-signatory National Director Claire Mallinson, outlined in the letter Amnesty International’s grave concerns that the safety of asylum-seekers at the detention centre cannot be guaranteed.
They urged Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister O’Neill to ensure Transfield, the recently sub-contracted service provider, delays any plans to re-employ G4S staff suspected of involvement in the violence until those responsible are identified and prosecuted.
“This government can no longer put up a smokescreen around the unlawfulness of this policy and its disastrous mismanagement of the centre,” said Amnesty International Australia’s National Director Claire Mallinson.
“The tragic death of this young man who turned to Australia for help demonstrates the government’s total inability to protect those in its care.
“The Australian government keeps promising to treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect, and yet continues to break this promise and puts the lives of asylum seekers at risk.
“The Australian government’s own review, run by the Secretary of the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, is not transparent or independent. It was started by, and will report to, the Department – which is the opposite of independent.”
The letter asks both governments to fully cooperate with this inquiry to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
“Both governments owe Reza Barati’s grieving family the truth. The people who carried out this brutal violence must face justice without delay, and in accordance with international fair trial standards,” added Claire Mallinson.
At the end of the month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will call on Australia to review its treatment of asylum seekers and its agreement with Papua New Guinea.
“From day one, we have urged the Australian government to end its policy of offshore processing, and close the facility altogether,” Claire Mallinson said.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called for a response to recommendations made in December in its report on Manus Island Detention Centre, This is Breaking People, and has been met with silence from both governments. Amnesty International will submit these recommendations as evidence in the PNG enquiry.