Thursday, 9 February 2017
At five o'clock this morning, under the cover of darkness on Manus Island at the Lombrum detention centre, Papua New Guinea police and private security guards stormed the centre and began the forced deportation that was the subject of my questions to Senator Brandis yesterday. In doing so, they have trashed the human rights of detainees, who remain Australia's moral and legal responsibility in the context of international law. We have seen at least one detainee frogmarched out of the detention centre and allegedly private guards threatened other detainees that they would be back to take them out later.
This is a situation that has inflamed tensions which already were at very high levels. I want to say very clearly that the Australian government needs to intervene here with the Papua New Guinea government, ensure that detainees have all opportunity to exhaust legal remedies before they are forcibly deported from Papua New Guinea and ensure that actions taken by Papua New Guinea police and private security guards do not, as we have heard this morning, unnecessarily inflame tensions. We do not want to see violence in these centres. But I do have to say that tensions are running very hot in the Lombrum centre and I urge the Attorney-General to uphold the law and use all available opportunities to make sure that things are done properly and in accordance with international law.