Weekly media wrap - 20 January 2018

The federal government refused a senate request to release documents regarding the construction of the new Australian-built asylum seeker facilities on Manus Island. The senate requested the documents and contracts in December 2017, seeking detail about the health, construction and security services to be provided at the facilities. Immigration minister Peter Dutton claimed that releasing such documents may cause damage to Australia’s international relations with Papua New Guinea.

The security of the Manus Island detention facilities is under threat due to a contract dispute between two security companies. Employees from Paladin Solutions, the Australian-contracted security firm, were blocked from entering the facilities by locally-owned firm Kingfisher Security, who are claiming their right to the lucrative contract. The visa applications of many foreign private security guards employed by Paladin Solutions were rejected by PNG’s Chief Immigration Officer, with claims that the company must employ more local workers.

The full bench of the federal court condemned a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to reject the asylum appeal of a homosexual Indian man who argued that he would face persecution due to his sexuality if returned to India. The court criticised the Tribunal’s assertion that the asylum seeker in this case was not homosexual.

Tim Costello, chief advocate of World Vision Australia, expressed that ‘Manus is my government’s cruelty’ following a recent visit to Manus Island as part of a delegation of humanitarian experts. Costello described the absence of hope amongst the asylum seekers he met. Meanwhile, Australia’s offshore detention regime was internationally shamed through a recent Human Rights Watch annual world report stating that Australia ‘maintained its cruel practice of warehousing asylum seekers in abysmal conditions’.

The Australian Council for International Development and The Guardian Australia launched ‘Beyond the Wire’, a new site with personal stories of asylum seekers on Manus Island as well as local Manusians. The site provides ‘unvarnished and unscripted’ accounts from the people themselves. New stories will be released each week.