24 Jul 2013

Claim asylum seekers have been raped and abused

1:34 pm on 24 July 2013

Australia's Immigration Minister Tony Burke says he will travel to the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea to assess claims of rape and torture of detainees.

A former security manager at the immigration detention centre claims detainees have been raped and tortured with the full knowledge of staff.

The allegations come after the Australian government announced all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat will be processed in PNG and resettled there if found to be refugees.

Rod Saint George, a former senior manager with the security firm G4S, says despite the advice from him and others the Immigration Department refused to remove the victims from Manus Island.

Mr St George described repeated instances of sexual abuse between asylum seekers in the single male compound.

He told SBS's Dateline programme victims are knowingly left in the same compound as their abusers because there are no facilities to separate them.

Mr Burke says the allegations are appalling, but the Government still intends to expand the Manus Island facility to cope with the huge number of asylum seekers making their way by boat to Australia, the ABC reports.

Australia's Immigration Department said it was unaware of the claims of unreported acts of self-harm, suicide attempts or incidents of rape.

The department said there had been 23 incidents of self harm by 21 individuals since the centre opened in November. One person alleged he had been sexually assaulted but chose not to press charges and there have been no reported allegations of rape, it said.