Manus Island review into violence will focus heavily on security at the centre. Greens say terms of reference ‘entirely inadequate’ to fully examine role of Scott Morrison and Immigration Department
The terms of reference for a review into the unrest at the Manus Island processing centre will focus heavily on the management of security at the centre.
The terms were released on Wednesday night. They demand scrutiny of security, which is provided by the service provider G4S. Breaches of security, roles and responsibilities to manage incidents and the response from service providers involved will form a significant part of the review, which is to be headed by the former public servant Robert Cornall.
The review was commissioned after protests on Manus Island escalated into violence involving guards, local contractors and asylum seekers. Reza Barati, an asylum seeker from Iran, was killed during the violence on 17 February and many other asylum seekers were injured.
The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the terms were “entirely inadequate” to fully examine the role of the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, and his department.
“A man has been killed and, rather than looking into what role the government and responsible minister played in the event, this review will only skim the surface,” she said.
“This was the government’s chance to show that it actually cared about Reza Barati and the other refugees in their care. The government has instead chosen to fail Reza for a second time.”
The review does leave it open to Cornall to focus on “any other issues deemed necessary”, but makes no specific reference to assessing the conduct of the minister or his department.
“The review may make recommendations to strengthen relevant arrangements at the centre and prevent recurrence of any similar incident in the future,” the terms of reference state.
In language that is similar to the previous review into sexual assault allegations at the Manus facility last year, the review will make available any evidence of criminal activity to “relevant authorities”. But unlike the previous sexual assault review, it will be undertaken “in co-operation with the PNG government”.
It will also seek to determine a clear picture of the facts and circumstances leading up to and during the disturbances. There have been strongly conflicting reports about what transpired there.
The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, has been criticised after being forced to revise his account of where the clashes took place, conceding on Saturday night that most had happened inside the centre’s perimeter.
An early police report into the death of Barati also appeared to blame asylum seekers for escalating the conflict, and defends locals and guards in an account that is at odds with other official reports.
It says the asylum seekers “overpowered” G4S guards and that “extra force” had been needed to contain the situation.
But official incident reports by G4S seen by Guardian Australia make no reference to asylum seekers escaping the compound, despite internal fence breaches.
They also note “ongoing violence” between police officers and transferees. A statement written by a G4S guard said a senior officer had invited PNG dog squad police into the compound, which led to a further escalation of the situation.
The review is to be provided to the department by April, with a progress report due by 31 March.