Federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has released the final report from an Independent Review looking at the events leading up to, and including the February riots at the detention centre on Manus Island that left 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati dead, and scores more injured.
The report was compiled by Robert Cornall, a now-retired senior public servant who worked as the Secretary of the Attorney-General‘s department from 2000 until his retirement in 2008; a role predominantly taken up during the Howard Government.
The report concluded that a member of the Salvation Army, and not private security company G4S as previously speculated, who was involved in the initial attack that left Berati with fatal injuries. The officer – name redacted from the version of the report released to the public – is alleged to have struck Berati with a long stick, after which up to ten other officers, including some possibly employed by G4S, attacked Berati by kicking him in the head. A final assailant allegedly dropped a large stone on Berati’s head. Reza Berati suffered catastrophic and unsurvivable cranial injuries and died in transit to a medical facility.
Other injuries that took place and were covered in the report include a man who lost his right eye – medical staff noted he appeared to have been beaten with a stick or iron bar – a man who received a gunshot wound to the buttocks, and another man who was slashed across the throat.
The report claims that not all asylum seekers were involved in the protests and riots, and that some only participated because they were bullied into doing so. The cause of the tension is said to revolve around clashes in culture between PNG nationals working at the centre and with asylum seekers, particularly Iranian detainees, who the report claims held Papua New Guinea in very low regard as a country, and thus racism played a part in the rising tension within the centre.
While guards and security were among the injured during the violent unrest, the report makes clear that it was the asylum seekers who physically fared far worse.
The report contains 13 recommendations pertaining to increased security at the centre, along with further cooperation with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary in their investigation into the crimes that took place during the riots.
The full report is available to be read from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
Photo: Stefan Postles via Getty Images.