Manus Island rape allegations may indicate possible Govt cover-up

28th Jul 2015

Three detention centre guards who were allowed to return to Australia after allegedly drugging and raping a local woman on Manus Island may constitute a cover up of possible criminal activity by the Australian government, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

Authorities from Papua New Guinea (PNG) said the incident occurred in mid-July when the men and a local woman were allegedly found partially unclothed, inebriated and sniffing an unidentified substance.

However, according to media reports today, Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) allowed the detention centre guards to return to Australia before an investigation could be carried out, angering PNG police.

ALA spokesperson Greg Barns said the DIPB’s ability to transport the guards back to Australia contradicted previous government claims that the offshore detention facilities on Nauru and Manus Island were under the jurisdiction of local authorities.

“If these reports are substantiated, there can be no further doubt that Australia is in full control of the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru,” Mr Barns said.

“It is further confirmation that, despite the contrary statements of Prime Minister Abbott and Immigration Minister Dutton, these centres are under the direct control of the Australian government.”

“One would expect that the Australian government had knowledge of the circumstances in which the three guards were flown out of Papua New Guinea”, Mr Barns said

“If Australian government officials participated in removing these men from a potential criminal investigation then they may be criminally liable in the same that a person who helps an individual cover up evidence of a crime would be liable”.

Mr Barns said the DIPB’s actions may have left it criminally liable for obstructing a criminal investigation by local authorities.

“The question needs to be asked whether there may be some criminal liability on the part of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection if it knowingly removed people from these centres to inhibit an investigation,” Mr Barns said.

“The Manus Island detention centre seems to be a place where crimes can be committed against vulnerable individuals and you get away with it.

“If this happened in Sydney or Melbourne it would be front page news,” Mr Barns said.

“The Department of Immigration and Border Protection needs to reveal its role in this affair and must cooperate fully with the police investigation into this matter.”