26 Apr 2017

Dutton stands by disputed claim on Manus violence

5:29 pm on 26 April 2017

Australia's immigration minister has refused to release evidence for his disputed claim about unrest on Manus Island two weeks ago.

Detention centre guards on Manus Island.

Detention centre guards on Manus Island. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Papua New Guinea police said up to 15 drunk naval personnel fired at the Manus regional processing centre for refugees and asylum seekers on Good Friday.

According to PNG's Defence Force, the trouble stemmed from an altercation between asylum seekers and naval officers at a football field.

Following the incident, the minister Peter Dutton said tensions boiled over due to concerns about a five-year-old boy being "led into" the centre by asylum seekers.

However, Manus police rejected his account, saying the incident involving the child was separate from the Good Friday violence, and suggested Mr Dutton got various facts wrong.

But the minister was standing by his comment and told The Guardian he won't release information he received about the unrest because it was classified.

Australian opposition politicians and PNG leaders have criticised Mr Dutton for mixing unrelated events to suggest asylum seekers were planning to sexually assault the boy.

Manus Island detention centre

Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Manus police saying Mr Dutton had used a report about a boy aged 10, not five, simply being given fruit at the processing centre before being escorted away, unharmed.

However the minister said he'd been briefed by "senior people on the island" and given updates about an "elevated" mood on Manus due to a previous alleged sexual assault case involving a child and an asylum seeker.

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