Four months of trouble at Manus: report

There were 110 incidents including assault, self-harm and voluntary starvation at the Australian-run processing centre on Manus Island over a four-month period in 2013.


There were 10 incidents of assault, six escape attempts and nine reports of self-harm at the facility between March and July 2013, according to documents acquired under freedom of information requests by The Guardian Australia.

The documents also include reports of a child asylum seeker threatening to commit suicide, other attempted suicides by detainees as well as riots and hunger strikes.

In April 2013 there was one incident a day, the report says, while there were on average two or three significant incidents a day between March and June 2013.

The documents describe one incident in which PNG paramilitary officers assigned to protect the facility stormed the compound and demanded payment from the Australian government.

In another, a security guard was suspended after kicking a detainee in the groin and punching him in the head during a fight in the mess area.

A female asylum seeker was delayed in receiving medical treatment for three days because of a communication breakdown between agencies.

At the time of the reports there were about 300 asylum seekers – men, women and children – being held at the centre.

Since the coalition government was elected in September, Manus has been expanded and there are currently 1,229 male asylum seekers at the centre.

Comment is being sought from Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

He has previously said improvements have been made at the centre.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson Young has accused Mr Morrison of lying to the Australian people over reports of a violent clash between PNG police and the military in October 18, 2013, which caused Australian staff to be evacuated.

Mr Morrison said on Sunday that the dispute was between PNG nationals and did not involve the detention centre.

He denied reports that the centre had been evacuated and that weapons had been drawn.

“As such, any investigation into the alleged conflict is and remains a matter for PNG authorities,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Morrison later said individual cases concerning Manus would not be discussed.

“The Australian government has made a number of improvements at the facility,” she said.

“This has included a more than doubling of capacity at offshore processing centres for both transferees and staff, enhancing security through the installation of security fencing and CCTV cameras, upgrading medical facilities and support, reconfiguring and integrating contractual arrangements.”

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