Pacific News Minute: Leaked Documents Report Brutality at Australian Detention Camp on Manus Island

May 25, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Last week, we reported on plans to close the controversial Australian detention camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Now, documents obtained by The Guardian show shocking levels of violence, sexual assault, suicide and drug use by staff and detainees. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.



Guards are issued cut-down knives to rescue asylum seekers who try to hang themselves – as many as 16 in one week. Medical reports detail incidents of psychosis, hallucinations, refusal to eat or drink and complete withdrawal from communication. One asylum seeker was murdered by guards; two died allegedly, due to medical neglect.


A series of complaints details refugees in handcuffs beaten by staff. One part of the detention center, P Block, now closed, was known as the “rape dungeon.”


Camp culture includes bullying, drugs and several riots, mainly over food or restrictions on movement. 


In the most recent incident, last month, local police reported that sailors from the PNG Navy got into an argument with detainees over use of a soccer field; in a drunken rampage, the report said, they fired about 100 shots and rammed a car into the front gate in an attempt to storm the facility. Nine people were injured.

Detainees and their advocates have long argued that Australia deliberately made conditions harsh, as part of the policy to deter asylum seekers from trying to reach Australia by boat.


The documents obtained by The Guardian show that the private security firms paid to run the camp waged a year-long campaign to make conditions worse to coerce detainees to accept repatriation or resettlement.


Last year, the Guardian published documents that disclosed similar conditions at Australia’s other off-shore detention camp, in the island nation of Nauru.