Tag Archives: australia

PROTESTERS WARNED !

Source: Post Courier

BY GORETHY KENNETH

The PNGDF will have no choice but to forcefully evict the protesting refugees if the situation gets uncontrolled, Lombrum Naval Base Commanding Officer Begsy Karaki said.

But CO Karaki assured no arbitrary actions on their part will be instigated as the 600 odd refugees and non refugees were still under the “care” of the PNG Immigration Office with Australia.

“They will not be forcefully removed. They are here at the military camp and most of their base in military camp are out of bound to any civilian and they will not be seen wondering around in the camp…but if anything happens, with instructions from Head Quarters, we can act,” he said.

The Lombrum Naval Base in Manus is a sensitive military base operated by the Maritime Operations Element of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.

Australia and the PNG Governments agreed in 2013 to have the Manus Regional Processing Centre set up in the premises of the military camp, with full knowledge of the military rules.

CO Karaki also explained that there was no call out and that there was no real threat right now but the military base operations was on standby for anything.

“There is no panic and those that have pre-conceived ideas developed by the asylum seekers. I reiterrate that there is no threat,” he said.

“This is Australia’s problem now being brought in here, and we are getting blamed for issues we did not create. We cannot get involved, we have no say in this, but because they are placed here at our military camp, we hope there are some solutions quickly, so we carry on with our duties and tasks.

“This program has placed more responsibility on us, but we have to carry out the tasks.

“If anything happens in the vicinity of the camp, if any threat – I will only act on HQ instructions,” he said.

When asked about the facilities now at MRPC which is inside the Lombrum Naval Base, whether it was now the property of the military base, CO Karaki said he had no idea.”I have nothing on my table saying that, at the moment we don’t own anything because there is no gifting or there is no arrangement or even myself I am not aware of this one or any of that arrangement. We don’t own anything, although it is in the military establishment but we don’t own anything. It is still in the higher process level where they will sort it out,” he said.

US Accepts 54

The National

THE Government has welcomed the approval by the United States to resettle some refugees from Manus, and hopes more cases are resolved before the closure of the centre next month.

A United States Department official confirmed yesterday that a “first group” of 54 refugees had been approved and would travel to the US in  the coming weeks, and more should be resettled in the coming months. An agreement was struck last year with the Obama administration.

The Manus regional processing centre will be closed on Oct 31 in compliance with a PNG Supreme Court ruling last year that the detention of asylum seekers on the island was in breach of the PNG constitution.n    From Page 1
A PNG Government spokesman told The National yesterday that the process involving the settlement of refugees in the US had been underway for some time.

“In broader terms, we (Government) look forward to seeing other individual asylum-seeker cases advanced, particularly ahead of the closure of the Manus regional processing centre,” he said.

“Ultimately, the intent of the Manus centre was to do our part to put an end to people smuggling in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani currently held at the Manus centre welcomed the US government decision.
Boochani called on the US and Australia to specify a time frame for sending people to America.

“Their (Australia’s) plan is to close Manus detention centre by the end of October and until now, they could not because the refugees have resisted and refused to leave the detention centre and go to East Lorengau,” Boochani said.

There are 730 refugees on Manus and 1053 on Nauru at the end of August, according to the Australian government.

Many of the refugees have been on Manus since 2012 after PNG and the Kevin Rudd-led Labor government signed an agreement to process their cases at the Manus centre.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS QUESTIONABLE ROLE IN BOTCHED COMMON ROLL – PRUAITCH

Media Statement by Hon Patrick Pruaitch via Legend FM News

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Australian Government role in the most problematic PNG general election since independence lacks transparency and raises questions regarding probity and fair play, the Leader of the National Alliance Party, Mr Patrick Pruaitch, said today.
Mr Pruaitch said the Australian Government was directly involved in assisting to update the Common Roll and many millions has been spent on the exercise.
“The 2017 Common Roll distributed to all 111 electoral seats has been found to be deficient in so many ways. Numerous names on the 2012 roll are left out. In many areas,roll numbers have been padded.” he said.
Mr Pruaitch said defects in the Common Roll appear unfathomable unless there were some forms of collusion between the Australian and PNG Governments. “Why has this job been botched up so badly,” he asked.
The PNG and Australian Governments need to come clean and disclose the nature of the work involved in upgrading the Common Roll and an explanation is needed on why the latest Common Roll is deficient when compared with the 2012 Roll.
The PNG public has a right to know if secret deals were made between PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Australian counterpart, Mr Malcolm Turnbull, as well as between PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and Australia’s Ms Julie Bishop when they met a few weeks ago.
Mr Pruaitch said that in order to cope with shortcomings of the Common Roll,the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Patilius Gamato, has instructed the use wherever necessary of the 2012 Common Roll. 
However, we have a situation in East Sepik (and other parts of Momase) where the Returning Officers are refusing to comply with Mr Gamato’s orders because there are not enough ballot papers to cope with the 2012 Common Roll. Large numbers of people who voted before will be unable to exercise their democratic right.
In fact, it has now become clear that virtually all Returning Officers do not have a copy of the 2012 Common Roll, a case where the bosses are ignorant of the situation on the ground.
“A few days ago University of Technology students in Lae chose to burn the 1150 ballot papers delivered when there are nearly 5,000eligible to vote.Where have the missing ballots gone?
“One can only assume this is a result of gross manipulation of the election process by the O’Neill-Dion Government,” Mr Pruaitch said.
The Australian Government is also answerable for the ongoing fiasco regarding delivery of ballot papers to various electorates.
Mr Pruaitch said: “While we are grateful for this assistance to deal with massive logistical issues in delivering ballot papers, surely the Australian Defence Force engagement, coming on top of the Australian Government assistance with the Common Roll, should be a straight forward exercise.
“Instead we have many reports of illegal ballot papers delivered to the wrong electorates, constituting fraud on a grand scale. Concerned members of the public have taking to burning these ballot papers.
“Where does the fault lie? Who is to blame for this incompetence or is there a conspiracy at work?” Mr Pruaitch asked.
—-The PNG News Page—-

Aust Govt to pay $70m damages to 1,905 Manus detainees in class action

 

The Australian government and its offshore detention contractors will pay more than $70m in compensation to nearly 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them in dangerous and damaging conditions on Manus Island.

The government on Wednesday settled a class action brought by Slater and Gordon on behalf of 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers detained on the island, rather than proceed with a six-month trial that would have involved evidence before the court from detainees of murder inside the detention centre, systemic sexual and physical abuse, and inadequate medical treatment leading to injury and death.

The detention centre was ruled “illegal and unconstitutional” by the PNG Supreme Court in April 2016. It remains operational, housing nearly 900 men, but is slated for closure in October this year.

 

UN official says Australia responsible for ‘inhuman’ treatment of asylum seekers
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The Australian government and its contractors have agreed to pay compensation of $70m plus costs.

Costs will run to at least $20m, Slater and Gordon said. But the total cost could climb beyond $100m, an immigration department source confirmed to The Guardian.

The settlement was reached on the provision that the Australian government denied any and all liability for the mistreatment and false imprisonment of people on Manus Island.

The breakdown of money to be paid by the Australian government, G4S, and Broadspectrum has not been made public, but it is possible that some of the settlement could be paid by Wilson Security, which was sued by Broadspectrum and brought into the class action as a secondary defendant.

The lead plaintiff in the case was 35-year-old Iranian Christian Majid Kamasaee, who fled his homeland to escape violent religious persecution. He said the settlement was a long-overdue acknowledgement of the unnecessary suffering endured by those sent to Manus.

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“This case is not just about me, it is about every person who has been trapped on Manus Island,” Kamasaee said.

“I came to Australia seeking peace, but I was sent to Manus, which was hell. I was in pain every minute of every day and I cried every night until I had nothing left.”

Kamasee said his treatment in the Manus Island detention centre was degrading and cruel.

“Sadly, many of my friends are still there.

“Our voices have never been listened to, but today we are finally being heard and I hope everyone’s suffering can be over as quickly as possible.”

The class action – even without proceeding to trial – involved 200 witness statements, 200,000 documents, and more than 50 court dates. It detailed allegations of mistreatment from detainees themselves, as well as supporting evidence from health workers and security experts.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Andrew Baker said the people detained on Manus Island endured extremely hostile conditions, but had refused to suffer in silence.

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“Most were fleeing religious persecution and violence and came to Australia seeking protection, only to be denied their basic human rights,” he said.

“While no amount of money could fully recognise the terrible conditions the detainees endured, we hope today’s settlement can begin to provide them with an opportunity to help put this dark chapter of their lives behind them.”

Asked if he believed the Australian government had settled on the case to avoid scrutiny of detention conditions in open court, Slater and Gordon class action practice group leader Rory Walsh said: “yes”.

By denying liability as a condition of settlement, Walsh said, the government was able to continue to run that argument in other cases involving Manus and Nauru.

 

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“The extent to which a $70m plus costs settlement undermines the ability for them to do that, or whether indeed it passes the pub test, is a matter for others to comment on.”

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said settlement in the case was not an admission of liability, and that the government “strongly refutes and denies the claims made in these proceedings”.

“The commonwealth is required by the Legal Services Directions to endeavour to avoid, prevent or limit the scope of legal proceedings,” Dutton said in a statement.

“An anticipated six-month legal battle for this case would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees alone, with an unknown outcome. In such circumstances a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers.”

Dutton said the DIBP was the most litigated department of the Commonwealth, with an active caseload of nearly 5,800 matters. DIBP’s legal expenditure last financial year was more than $70m.

He said the cost of Australia’s border policies had been $13.7b to date, and accused the Labor Party, which re-opened the Manus and Nauru detention centres in 2012, of losing control of Australia’s borders.

However, Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani told the Guardian from Manus that the settlement was a concession by the Australian government its policy of offshore detention was illegal.

“The people are very happy because it’s the first time they smell a little bit of justice from Australia. I’m saying only a little bit because we still don’t know how they are planning to pay the compensation. The government has kept people in this prison for four years and must answer to the people it has damaged physically and mentally.

“This shows the government recognised that they committed a crime by sending us to this prison. It proves that the government lied to the people.”

Boochani said the future of the 900 men remaining on Manus Island remained uncertain, despite the class action settlement.

“It’s time to take us from here and give us freedom in a safe place. Freedom is more important that anything.”

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Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Muhammad said the settlement had given men in detention hope.

“I feel very excited that at least the Australian government has admitted to what they have done to us over the last four years.”

The class action, commenced by Slater and Gordon in the Victorian Supreme Court in December 2014, was run on behalf of 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers who were held at the Manus Island regional processing centre between November 2012 and December 2014.

That period included the riots of February 2014 during which more than 70 detainees were seriously injured. Over three days of violence, refugees were shot by police, were stabbed and had their throats slits when the camp was overrun by rioters from outside. Iranian Reza Barati was murdered by security guards.

The detainees alleged in the class action they suffered serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of the conditions in detention.

In 2016, a second claim for false imprisonment was added to the action, after the PNG supreme court ruled that the detention of asylum seekers was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Following the settlement announcement, the department of immigration and border protection has been approached for comment, but has not responded.

Legal and human rights groups accused the government of agreeing to settle in order to avoid evidence of condition inside the secretive offshore camps being heard in open court.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Daniel Webb said the case was an “important and long overdue concession that it has knowingly caused profound harm to innocent people in its care”.

He said the men still held on Manus should be brought to Australia immediately.

“Throwing money at the abuses of yesterday won’t stop the abuses of today. Nine hundred men are still languishing on a painful and dangerous road to nowhere. These men have been shot at, beaten and unlawfully detained. They’ve also suffered the mental torment of not knowing if or when their ordeal would ever end. Manus is not a safe place for them.”

GetUp’s human rights director Matthew Phillips said the settlement was concession that Australia’s offshore detention centres were inherently abusive environments.

“Make no mistake – this is hush money.

“Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton will throw around a seemingly unlimited amount of taxpayer money to avoid public scrutiny of evidence of abuses occurring within Australia’s detention regime and to protect the private contractors complicit in those abuses.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/14/government-to-pay-damages-to-manus-island-detainees-in-class-action

Australian Academics To Visit UNRE

May 25, 2017 – Post Courier
Three Australian academics will be at the University of Natural Resources and Environment campus this week under the kina-for-kina (K4K) program, an innovative and collaborative new program established by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia to improve quality in higher education in PNG.

Professor Paul Gadek, Dr Rob Brown and Emma Kill will carry out a teaching quality assurance systems audit.

The review is a follow on from the external academic audit conducted at UNRE in 2013 by a group of academics from Australia and PNG, who identified a number of important areas that the university needed to improve.

These included how the university tries to control the quality of its teaching, how it regulates the content of its courses and carries out teaching and assessment.

UNRE vice-chancellor Professor John Warren said in addressing the problems, the university’s administration systems were reviewed and refreshed and a number of new teaching administration systems were introduced.
“If we are to genuinely make progress and improve it is important that we know if these new systems are working,” Prof Warren said.

He said this would be the task of the visiting academics – to determine if the new teaching administrations system are understood and are being used effectively so that further improvements could be made to increase quality.

Divine Word University and the University of Technology will also receive grants under the K4K program. One will improve its business programs while the other is targeting training for the development of teaching and learning.

Prof Warren said he believes K4K will support more highly skilled graduates as well as lecturers.
“The government of Papua New Guinea truly appreciates the K4K initiative because it is aimed directly at assisting the areas of education that will lead to good outcomes for students,” he said.