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2014: Murder of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati in offshore immigration detention on Manus Island

17 February 2023 @ 12:00 am 11:59 pm AEDT

Today we remember twenty three year old asylum seeker Reza Barati who was killed in riots at the Regional Processing Centre (RPC) on Manus Island. A Senate Committee inquiry later found that the Australian Government had failed in its duty to protect him, and other asylum seekers, from harm. Here is an extract from the conclusions of the Committee.

8.5        In summary, the committee has found that the events of 16 to 18 February 2014 at the Manus Island RPC were eminently foreseeable, and may have been prevented if transferees had been given a clear pathway for the assessment of their asylum claims. Many of the problems at the centre had their origins in the events of July to October 2013, when 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 inability of the centre’s infrastructure to cope with this influx, combined with the complete absence of any clear refugee status determination and resettlement framework to deal with these asylum seekers, created an environment where unrest and transferee protests were the inevitable result.

8.6        It is clear from evidence presented to the committee that the Australian Government failed in its duty to protect asylum seekers including Mr Barati from harm.

Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs report

The Manus Island RPC was found to be unconstitutional by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court in 2016 and was shut in 2017. A number of detainees were transferred to the Bomana Immigration Detention Centre.

In November 2019 a delegation of representatives from the Australian Catholic community traveled to Papua New Guinea to gain a deeper understanding of conditions for asylum seekers there. Read their statement here.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has made a complaint about the conditions of detention in Bomana to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As SBS News report, Director of the jurisdiction, complementary and cooperation division of the ICC office of the prosecutor, Phakiso Mochochoko has found that the conditions of detention “appear to have constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Read more here.