The Federal Government says it is not yet clear what triggered the latest incident at the Manus Island detention centre following reports that asylum seekers were arrested and assaulted by Papua New Guinea police and immigration officers on New Year’s Eve.
The Refugee Action Coalition said the two Iranians suffered several broken bones in the incident, and photos supplied by the group also showed the pair with cuts and bruises on their faces.
But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the advocates may be using the incident to “attack” the Government’s immigration policies.
Mr Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB that he wanted to hear from the PNG police before commenting further.
“If people have had an interaction with the PNG police on a New Year’s Eve night, I would wait to see the full facts of that case before I’d make any comment to say that they were targeted because they were refugees or because they were part of the Manus Island population,” he said.
“I think we’re better off to wait for the full facts instead of letting the refugee advocates try to use this to again attack the government’s successful border protection policy.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration said the department was aware of an incident involving two asylum seekers, but that it was a matter for the PNG police force.
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the Australian Government should investigate the incident.
Mr Rintoul said there needed to be “oversight on the role of the PNG police and the attitude of the PNG police.”
“The Australian Government is ultimately responsible for all the people who are held on the island, but I think it’s very clear that we need an investigation into this particular bashing,” he said.