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Friday 5 June 2015 | Published in Regional


LORENGAU – A refugee watchdog says a curfew for refugees on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island is a stark indicator that refugees cannot be safely cared for there.

Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says an Iranian refugee has been bashed by PNG immigration officers for not obeying a 6pm to 6am curfew imposed by authorities at the Manus detention centre in East Lorengau

He says tensions have also been rising on Manus Island, as pre-trial hearings for two PNG nationals charged with the death of asylum seeker Reza Berati have begun.

Rintoul says witnesses are being threatened by immigration officials and PNG locals.

He says it’s concerning that PNG authorities believe a curfew is necessary to keep refugees safe on Manus.

“These people are vulnerable to the attacks from the locals, for the reasons I’ve gone over, but it’s also clear that they’re not safe from the assaults from the PNG authorities themselves.

“I think overriding that is the fact that the O’Neill government, in spite of it being two years, has not put a resettlement arrangement in place.”

Rintoul says the refugee who was “bashed” by two Papua New Guinea immigration officers was drinking at a pub past his curfew.

He says the immigration officers found Iranian man, Mohsen, drinking at a pub with locals at about 9.30pm and repeatedly punched and manhandled him before taking him away.

Rintoul says locals at the pub were supportive of Mohsen.

“It was nice to see in that respect that locals were backing Mohsen up, but it did nothing to prevent the assault.

“Now that a complaint has been made to the police we are hopeful that the locals will be witnesses to the assault and it will be very telling actually whether the police proceed to lay charges because the identification of the officers involved in the assault is very clear.”

Pacnews reports the PNG Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato has confirmed an investigation is underway into the alleged severe beating.