News National Police slam Manus report
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Police slam Manus report

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Papua New Guinea police say they will not rely on an independent Australian report into February riots at the Manus Island detention centre, and the death of Iranian asylum-seeker Reza Barati.

PNG Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Kauba said the report was private and would not be used to assist prosecutions.

“The findings of the independent investigation by Robert Cornall is inconclusive and will not help us in anyway,” Deputy Commissioner Kauba said in a statement.

“In fact, its release only hampers our ongoing investigations into the riot within the Manus detention centre.”

Deputy Commissioner Kauba said he also had concerns about a “lack of cooperation” with police and the Australian Government, detention centre staff and security firm G4S.

“Whilst the centre on Manus is an Australian Government-funded and operated facility, it is on PNG soil and our laws and our powers take effect when a crime is committed here,” he said.

“However, our investigations have been frustrated from day one with a complete lack of cooperation from all involved including G4S employees as well as the asylum-seekers themselves.

“In fact, the asylum-seekers as well as G4S officials and other service providers refused to give their statements to us and made it known that they preferred to talk only to Australian lawyers.”

In the statement, Deputy Commissioner Kauba claims PNG police were not responsible for inflicting any injuries sustained by the asylum-seekers during the riots.

Report details violence

The riots took place at the Manus detention centre from February 16 to 18 this year.

On Monday, a PNG Salvation Army worker was identified in the report as allegedly leading the fatal attack on 23-year-old Mr Berati.

He died in what the Government describes as a “disturbance” that saw another 60 asylum-seekers injured, some seriously.

“Mr Berati was struck from behind by a service provider staff member – not G4S, it was actually Salvation Army,” Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said, releasing the report.

“And that other individuals including a G4S security contractor, it is alleged, were involved in rushing past him and kicking him and then a rock was dropped on Mr Berati’s head.”

Robert Cornall’s report said the asylum-seekers’ frustration and anger at being denied access to Australia, and uncertainty about how or when they might be resettled on PNG, were all contributing factors to the violence.

“The best opportunity to prevent such incidents recurring in future lies in addressing all of the underlying causes to minimise or even remove the factors that contributed to tension in the centre developing to a dangerous level,” the report said.