19 Feb 2014

Canberra told PNG asylum seeker killing a tragedy waiting to happen

4:50 pm on 19 February 2014

The Refugee Council of Australia says rioting at the asylum seeker camp on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island was a failure of Australian government policy and a tragedy waiting to happen.

One Iranian asylum seeker is dead following two nights of rioting and escapes on Sunday and Monday, and more than 70 suffered injuries including some who had to be transferred to Port Moresby and Australia for treatment.

The council's Chief Executive, Paul Power, says the Australian government must understand the consequences of indefinite, long-term detention on the mental health of asylum-seekers and it is no surprise that things have boiled over.

"It has to confront the fact that it has known all along that policies which involve keeping large numbers of people locked up in a confined space with nothing to do, with no idea of what their future is going to involve, we all know that these events will result from that policy."

Paul Power says the Australian government needs to open up and provide full disclosure about the centres.