December 11, 2014 | ABC News
The violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February that resulted in the death of an Iranian asylum seeker was “eminently foreseeable” according to a Senate committee report.
The committee, dominated by Labor and Greens senators, recommended the Government pay compensation to the victims, although that has been rejected by Coalition MPs on the committee.
The Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee today released its report into the incidents that led to the death of 23-year-old Iranian man Reza Barati.
About 70 asylum seekers were injured, some seriously, in what the Government described as a “disturbance” on Manus Island.
The committee blamed the vexed process for assessing asylum claims and a “massive influx” of single adult males to the centre after Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd announced the offshore-resettlement policy.
“The centre was transformed from a mixed facility into a single adult males facility and experienced a massive influx of new transferees, reaching more than double the initial intended capacity of the centre in the space of approximately 12 weeks,” the report said.
It also found the Government “failed in its duty” to protect the asylum seekers and that there were violations of human rights that warranted compensation for Mr Barati’s family and to those who were injured.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison released a statement blaming the policies of the previous government.
“Labor and the Greens have used their report as a blatant attempt to whitewash their own failures in government,” he said.
“The Coalition Government inherited a centre on Manus Island which was underfunded and incomplete, and resettlement arrangements were little more than a blank sheet of paper.
“Cost, chaos and tragedy was the order of the day under Labor and the Greens.
“This is no longer the case under the Coalition Government.”
Government senators on the committee also stated they did not agree with the recommendation to compensate victims because it “pre-supposes that human rights have been violated”.
They also dissented over a recommendation to give UN representatives, lawyers and journalists access to the centre, arguing Papua New Guinea was a sovereign nation and “it would not be appropriate … for Australia to seek to dictate who can visit their territory”.