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Manus Island Riots - Four Corners 28 April 2014

Manus Island riots: Scott Morrison backs down from guaranteeing safety of asylum seekers in PNG detention

Updated Mon 28 Apr 2014, 7:46pm AEST
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has backed away from guaranteeing the safety of asylum seekers inside the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in Papua New Guinea.
Riots at the centre on February 16 and 17 this year resulted in violent clashes that left one man dead and 62 people injured.
A 23-year-old Iranian Kurd, Reza Barati, was beaten to death.

IMAGERY: Aerial view of Manus Island Regional Processing Centre taken on March 2, 2014. (DigitalGlobe)
In the wake of the violence, Mr Morrison said on February 18 that he could guarantee the safety of asylum seekers who remained in the centre.
"I can guarantee their safety when they remain in the centre and act cooperatively with those who are trying to provide them with support and accommodation," he said.
But when asked by Four Corners whether he could guarantee the safety of asylum seekers within the Manus Island centre, Mr Morrison said it was "difficult" to ensure safety at all times.
"It is absolutely my aspiration, it is my commitment to ensure that these places are safe, but it is difficult I think to do that in every instance," he said.

"These are difficult places to manage, but it is certainly my expectation and it is my instruction to those who run these centres that that's the level of care and support that needs to be provided."
A Four Corners investigation has revealed that pressure points inside and outside the Manus Island centre led to a situation which eyewitnesses allege made "bloodshed" inevitable.
"Within a week of arriving on Manus Island I formed the opinion, and I made comments to my wife and people that I know, that there is only one possible outcome here and that is bloodshed," says one whistleblower featured in tonight's program.
"One of the things that led me to the decision that I could no longer work there was when I had young people, refugees, who were terrified, saying to me, 'Please, please keep us safe - don't let them kill us,' and I said, 'I will'.
"In the back of my mind I was thinking I can't. And that's difficult."

Both sides in Manus violence 'armed up' before incident

Former G4S guards and other witnesses interviewed by Four Corners alleged that "both sides" were "arming up" before the violence occurred.
One guard claimed G4S had repeatedly advised against a meeting with asylum seekers going ahead on Sunday February 16, because of fears it could trigger trouble.
"Post-riots I attended a meeting with centre management and a number of other employees, where centre management said that that decision [to cancel the meeting] was overturned by Immigration in Canberra," he said.
The former G4S guard claimed the Sunday meeting "was the catalyst for the riots that occurred later on that evening".
Another eyewitness said he saw PNG police enter the centre and open fire on the night of February 17.
"They were firing as they came in. They were followed by locals, nationals ... they came into the compound and they went with the police," he said.
Four Corners can also reveal that the day after the worst violence, G4S management advised the Immigration Department that it was stone-throwing from outside the centre that turned relatively peaceful protests into violent ones.
It was four days after the riots before Mr Morrison confirmed that most of the rioting and the response to it took place within the centre.
But he still will not say whether this involved the PNG police or other locals.
"It's a matter for the final report to confirm. It's a matter for the police investigation to confirm the facts of the incident on that evening," he said.
Not a single asylum seeker detained on Manus Island has had their claim finalised since former prime minister Kevin Rudd reached a resettlement agreement with Papua New Guinea in July last year.