One hundred days after Iranian asylum seeker, Reza Barati, was killed inside the Manus Island detention centre no one has been held to account. The killers, former G4S workers remain employed by Transfield, and the PNG police remain contracted by the Australian Immigration Department to provide external security for the detention centre.
The independent investigation initiated by the PNG National Court has been stymied by appeals launched by the Australian and PNG governments. There are two investigations into Reza’s death: one being done behind closed doors by Robert Cornall who was appointed by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the other by the PNG police themselves.
On 23 April, Morrison told Sky News that Cornall’s report would be made public. More than a month later, the report has not been released, although it has been given to the PNG government. To add to already serious suspicions that the Cornall and PNG police inquiries are compromised, the PNG Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato has admitted that the PNG police may have “deliberately slowed” their inquiry to coordinate the inquiries and “to avoid contradicting the immigration reviews”.
More than two months since Reza’s death, the PNG police have not interviewed any asylum seekers. Efforts in Australia and PNG to provide protection for eye-witnesses to the attack have also stalled. Those who witnessed Reza’s death literally live in fear of further reprisals and possible targeted attacks on them individually.
People who participated in the attacks on the asylum seekers gather daily at the detention fences to threaten asylum seekers with throat-cutting and shooting gestures directed at them.
But the asylum seekers have successfully resisted every attempt by Transfield to re-introduce the local PNG staff into the centre. Ultimately the responsibility for Reza Barati’s murder rests with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the system of offshore processing. They both have to go.
By Ian Rintoul