Sequence of events leading up to and during the incident of 16 February to
18 February 2014
The terms of reference for the inquiry require the committee to examine
the chronology of events relating to the incident at the Manus Island Regional
Processing Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014. In considering these
events, the committee has relied both on the evidence presented to it as well
as the Cornall Review of the incident. The committee has also been
particularly mindful of the need to avoid any interference with the
investigation and prosecution of the criminal offences associated with these
events: these are properly matters for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
(PNG Police) and the Papua New Guinean courts. As a result, while the committee
received evidence regarding the criminal culpability of particular individuals,
it has deliberately avoided discussion of those issues in this report.
Overview of events leading up to and during the incident from 16 to 18
The following timeline of events leading up to and during the incident
at Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (RPC) from 16 to 18 February 2014 is
a summary and has been drawn together from various sources. The factors and
events that directly contributed to the incident are discussed in greater detail
later in this chapter and chapter 8.
circulated in the Manus Island RPC that there would be an amnesty in offshore
processing at Christmas resulting in asylum seekers being transferred to
15 December 2013
G4S submitted a further
proposal for improved security lighting and fencing to the department.
The department entered a contract for security works including improved
fencing in December.
2 January 2014
G4S submitted a security
risk assessment advocating the 'erection of more robust fencing, installation
of [closed circuit television] and improved security lighting' to department.
26 January 2014
Protests started at the
RPC, initially localised to Oscar compound. The protests were described as
peaceful and ad hoc.
From this day onwards, protests occurred on a daily basis, becoming more
organised and involving more compounds within the RPC.
30 January 2014
G4S requested an additional
30 guards. The request was approved by the department.
1 February 2014
G4S requested an additional
100 guards. The department sought additional information about this request
but it was ultimately approved.
2 February 2014
G4S contacted the
department urging it to open discussions with asylum seekers on refugee status
4 February 2014
G4S sent a briefing note to
Mr Martin Bowles PSM, Secretary of the department, requesting urgent
reinstatement of RSD, and expedited action in relation to outstanding
security issues previously raised by G4S with the department.
5 February 2014
A meeting between asylum
seekers and the department occurs at the RPC during which asylum seekers
issue the department with a series of questions, seeking answers within 12
6/7 February 2014
G4S sent letters to the
Secretary of the department and the Minister for Immigration and Border
Protection outlining concerns about the handover to Transfield Services and
other issues relating to the RPC.
16 February 2014
During the afternoon, a
meeting between asylum seekers, the department and PNG immigration officials
took place to respond to the questions put to the department on 5
During the evening, 35
asylum seekers escaped from Oscar compound. All were captured and returned
by G4S guards with the assistance of the PNG Police and other locals. Eight
asylum seekers were detained in the custody of PNG Police (they were returned
to the RPC several days later).
Violent rioting occurred in
Oscar compound. G4S guards and other locals entered Oscar compound. 
More than 200 asylum
seekers engaged in protesting in Foxtrot and Mike compounds. The G4S Incident
Response Team (IRT) was deployed to prevent protesting asylum seekers in
Foxtrot compound entering Mike compound.
Approximately 25 asylum
seekers and five G4S staff were injured during these protests and required
17 February 2014
On the morning of 17
February, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
issued a media release confirming that 'there was a disturbance at the Manus
Island centre last night.' The Minister later held a press conference at
which he provided further details.
During the morning, G4S and
other service providers made contingency plans, including an assessment of
available capacity in the medical centre, in preparation for further possible
disturbances at the RPC.
Tension started to mount in
Mike compound from approximately 1.45 pm.
Protest activity commenced
in Oscar compound at around 4.45 pm.
All non-essential staff
were removed from the RPC by approximately 5.15 pm.
At approximately 5.35 pm,
some asylum seekers not engaged in the protests were moved from Oscar
compound to Bravo and Charlie compounds.
From approximately 9.30 pm
protest activity increased.
Shortly after 9.30 pm the
generator supplying power to Mike compound failed.
At around 9.45 pm the PNG
Police mobile squad with a dog team is deployed in the 'Green Zone' (the area
between Mike and Foxtrot compounds).
The G4S IRT is deployed to
assist G4S staff located in the Green Zone who were subjected to rock and
other missile attack. The staff were extracted at 9.59 pm.
At around 10.00 pm the IRT
withdrew from the Green Zone.
Protestors destroyed the
fence between Mike and Foxtrot compounds at 10.05 pm, enabling protestors
from these two compounds to combine.
At 10.37 pm the IRT
withdrew completely from Mike compound.
Between 11.00pm and 11.30
pm, injured asylum seekers including Mr Reza Barati were brought to the
triage point established by IHMS at the Bibby Progress.
At around 11.15 pm, the IRT
entered Foxtrot compound to enable approximately 400 asylum seekers who were
not involved in the protesting to evacuate to an oval.
Gunshots were heard from
11.22 pm. It was alleged that about the same time, PNG Police officers and
other PNG locals entered Mike compound and began fighting with rioting asylum
18 February 2014
G4S re-established control
of the RPC at approximately 1.00 am.
Mr Barati died enroute to
Lorengau hospital after departing from the Bibby in an ambulance at approximately
Investigations by PNG
Police into the events of 17 February commenced.
At 11.00 am AEDT the
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection issued a statement in relation
to the incident at Manus Island RPC on 17 February. The minister stated that
he was advised 'that during the events PNG Police did not enter the centre
and that their activities related only to dealing with transferees who
breached the external perimeter'.
21 February 2014
The Minister for
Immigration and Border Protection announced an independent review of the
incident by Mr Robert Cornall AO, a former Secretary of the
22 February 2014
The Minister for
Immigration and Border Protection issued a media release confirming that 'the
majority of the riotous behaviour...and the response to that behaviour to
restore order to the centre, took place within the perimeter of the centre'.
Events leading up to 16 February 2014
Build-up of protest activity in
During late 2013, rumours circulated amongst asylum seekers at the Manus
Island RPC that there would be an amnesty in offshore processing at Christmas
resulting in asylum seekers being transferred to Australia.
The Cornall Review noted that the Manus Island RPC remained calm over
the Christmas period and early January 2014.
This view was confirmed in the evidence provided to the committee by the G4S
Deputy General Manager of the Manus Island RPC, Mr John McCaffery:
...prior to the commencement of the peaceful protest on 26
January, over Christmas it had been extremely quiet. There had been a very good
relationship between the transferees and the other stakeholders. The
transferees had put together collections to give to the local school and the
local hospital. At that stage, I left the island. I was there over Christmas
and New Year's and I left about the 8th or 9th.
However, towards the end of January there was a further rumour about a
possible amnesty and a build-up in tensions in the centre.
Mr Chris Manning, Managing Director of Immigration Services for G4S Australia explained:
...on 30 January, the intelligence suggested that we were
entering a new phase in the mood of the centre. There was, for the first time,
in that current range of protests, active intelligence coming through that
there was a threat of violent action—pushing down fences, setting fires and
generally causing violent unrest. That is the time at which we escalated the
level of communication to secretary and ministerial level.
Requests for additional security
The build-up in protest activity led G4S to request on 30 January 2014
approval from the department to engage 30 additional guards. Mr Manning, G4S,
explained this request:
The reason we asked for 30 in the first place was that 30
January was the first day that intelligence suggested that the hitherto
peaceful protests were likely to escalate to violence, pushing down fences or
lighting fires. That is what triggered the request for additional guards.
The department agreed to this request straight away.
On 1 February 2014, G4S emailed the department requesting an additional
100 guards. Mr Manning, G4S, indicated that this request had been foreshadowed
with the department when the 30 additional guards were requested:
I made it clear in the initial response that 30 was just the
first stage. The reason I did that is that it was easy to get 30 extra guards
across from Port Moresby because they were almost immediately available. It was
a kind of first-stage response—an immediate response—to the growing tensions,
threat of violence at the centre. When we made that request [I indicated] that
I may be coming to them ...for an additional 100, because that is what I felt was
needed, we would not have been able to muster 100 extra staff at that kind of
notice. That is why it came across as a staged approach...
It was a preliminary move... We were also obviously hoping
that we would see some progress in terms of improved communication with transferees,
because that is really what they were seeking, as other emails attest to. So I
did not want to activate the extra 100, when it would not necessarily have been
G4S submitted that the department initially rejected this request.
However, the evidence from the department suggested that this was more an issue
of the department seeking additional information about the request before agreeing
to the further 100 guards.
The Secretary of the department noted that the additional 130 staff were
in place by 4 February 2014.
Tensions related to the refugee
status determination process
In early February, G4S raised its concerns with the department about
escalating tensions in the Manus Island RPC and suggested how they might be defused.
On 2 February 2014, Mr McCaffery, G4S, emailed the department's centre
coordinator, Mr Anthony Kneipp, urging the department to open discussions with
detainees in relation to the refugee status determination process. Mr McCaffery
stated that the protest action was fundamentally about communication from the
department and PNG Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority (ICSA) regarding
what was happening in relation to the asylum seekers' applications for
...I do not believe any amount of [programs and activities] or
excursions will reduce the Transferees ardour [sic] for a response to the
simple question of when will they get out of here.
Similarly, Mr Sven Straub, Acting Managing Director, Southern Pacific
Region, G4S sent a detailed briefing note to the Secretary of the department on
4 February 2014 requesting urgent reinstatement of refugee status
determination processes and requesting expedited action on outstanding security
issues previously raised with the department. The briefing note noted reliable
intelligence suggesting that 'a serious event, including setting fires and
pushing down fences for the purposes of escaping, is likely to take place in
the next few days.'
In addition, Mr Straub advised the Secretary that:
We have repeatedly asked the Island Immigration Staff (both
Australian and PNG) to engage with Transferees to little avail, although a
series of Q&A sessions has now been agreed. G4S has raised this issue with
DIBP. This situation is similar to that which prevailed in terms of stalled
processing and general frustration with over-crowding on Christmas Island in
March 2011 prior to a breakdown of order there. In short, it is our view that
the situation could be easily defused if transferees can be provided
reassurance on timelines for processing of their claims and if PNG ICSA
commenced processing claims again.
A meeting was held on 5 February between asylum seekers and the department
during which asylum seekers provided the department with a series of questions
and requested official answers within 12 days.
An officer of the department described the purpose of the meeting:
As a result of the rising tensions within the centre, there
were a series of consultations and discussions involving the PNG immigration
authorities, the welfare providers and G4S to, in many ways, articulate and
specifically put down the concerns they had.
The department and PNG ICSA agreed to answer the questions put by the
asylum seeker representatives within 12 days.
In addition, six Claims Assistance Provider Scheme (CAPS) personnel were
deployed to Manus Island on 6 February 2014 to deliver group advice sessions
and individual advice to asylum seekers.
Mr Nicholas Adler, Registered Migration Agent, Playfair Visa and Migration
Services, explained how he understood the role of the CAPS personnel:
Our job was to provide information sessions to inform as many
people as possible in the centre about the process that they were going to
engage in, if they had not already engaged in it, and to conduct a full
schedule of interviews to begin the RSD process for a number of clients. We
would do three interviews per day per person. ...So there were 18 clients having
their applications prepared and lodged per day.
In response to a question from the committee, Mr Adler confirmed that
the CAPS personnel were not given any information regarding the timeframe for
the RSD process nor about the resettlement process which might follow a
determination that a client was a refugee.
He told the committee:
Resettlement was clearly not part of our remit and we were
very careful not to engage in that subject because it was not part of our role.
Our role was restricted to the RSD process. Resettlement can only occur when
someone has been determined to be a refugee. Our role was to help in that
assessment process. If there were a positive outcome, resettlement would be
another question. I am aware that this was an important issue for our clients.
Of course people were wanting information on this. But there was no reliable
information available. There was a lot of conflicting information circulating
and a lot of rumour—unsubstantiated rumour and conflicting rumour.
Miss Elizabeth Thompson, who worked as a CAPS officer on Manus Island in
August 2013 and February 2014, told the committee that there was a change in
the RSD process between her first and second deployment to the island. She gave
evidence that the department advised the CAPS providers during a phone hook-up on
5 February 2014 that there was no plan to proceed to the RSD interview to
enable the completion of the refugee status determination:
...usually on a deployment like this you would have the CAPS...interview
and then, a couple of weeks down the track, you would organise the schedule,
ideally, so that for the person I do the CAPS interview with I also go to
RSD...It was clear from the initial schedule we received in August that that
was the plan for what should happen. We had a schedule that said, 'You'll do this
and in a week's time you'll do the RSD.' So I would take a person through both
the CAPS and RSD stages...By the second deployment, there was no suggestion that
we would do CAPS then RSD. It was just CAPS, and that was made very clear on 5
It was Miss Thompson's view that the process of considering claims to
refugee status was being made up on the run in response to events:
It became very clear to me that there was not actually a
documented process to take people through and that it was hard to provide
information or claims assistance to someone. For example...if someone has what
you might consider to be a weak convention claim it is impossible for that
person to weigh up the pros and cons and the risks to themselves of either
continuing with the process or deciding to take the risks associated with
returning home if they do not know where they will end up, whether they will
have work rights-
Miss Thompson's evidence was that the department intended that the
deployment of CAPS providers would help to reduce the protests at the Manus
...[a departmental officer] made it clear that there were
protests going on and they really wanted us to get onto the island because they
thought that might stop the protests. I think the idea was to get something
happening to calm things down.
If that was the intention of the department it did not come to pass: instead
protest activity increased during the period asylum seekers were awaiting
responses to the questions posed at the 5 February meeting.
A G4S Safety and Security Officer described these protests:
The clients in Oscar, Foxtrot, Delta and Mike were doing protests
of one hour a night...They were quite peaceful. The protesting consisted of
chanting and singing mainly expressing that they wanted freedom, and they wanted
to be processed quicker and get to Australia.
The committee was also provided with some video footage of these
protests which supported this assessment.
However, Mr Kevin Pye, Regional Managing Director of the Manus Island RPC for
G4S, noted that intelligence reports were suggesting that there was an
increasing risk of violent protest:
In the two weeks leading up the riots, we received increased
intelligence reporting of threats of violent protest over the period of 16 to
18 February. That coincided with the program for the delivery of answers to the
community leaders from the department and PNG immigration. Because of this
increased risk of unrest we conducted extensive preparations at both project
level and communications at corporate level with the department.
Issues regarding possible
deployment of the PNG Police mobile squad
On 10 February 2014, Mr McCaffery of G4S emailed Mr Kneipp of the
department raising his concerns about various issues related
to deployment of the PNG Police mobile squad in the event of an incident at
the Manus Island RPC including whether the squad was adequately equipped and
trained in relation to crowd control utilising non-lethal force. He
specifically raised concerns that the escalation of force which would occur if
the squad was deployed would be 'quick' and could result in very serious
injuries or the death of protestors.
Mr Pye, G4S, explained these concerns in more detail:
When we started looking at the potential use of the mobile
squad to assist the centre, which would have been in the December-January
period, it was self-evident to us on the ground that because of how they were
dressed, because of how they were trained...they did not have what you would call
a conventional riot force capability—first defensive force and then escalating
use of force, as described in using non-lethal capsicum or other things. They
stood in uniforms and had weapons.
The department described how it responded to the concerns related to
possible deployment of the PNG Police mobile squad raised by G4S including
through the briefing note to the Secretary of 4 February 2014 and the email to
Mr Kneipp of 10 February 2014:
The department raised concerns about the PNG Mobile Squad
with the relevant PNG authorities on multiple occasions as appropriate,
including in response to Mr McCaffery's email of 10 February 2014. In some
instances, positive changes were realised through ongoing stakeholder
engagement on these matters.
Meeting on the afternoon of 16 February 2014
On the afternoon of 16 February, a meeting was held involving asylum
seekers representing all four compounds, departmental officials and PNG immigration
officials so that answers could be provided to the questions put by the asylum
seekers on 5 February. The department explained the context in which the
The meeting was held as part of a commitment that had been
given to a representative group of the transferees to respond to a series of
questions that they had submitted 10 or 11 days earlier. ...This was a planned
meeting. It was in response to a commitment that was given by the PNG
immigration people to get back to the transferees with some specific answers to
The department gave evidence that a PNG immigration official had
carriage of the meeting and, with assistance from interpreters, he provided
responses on behalf of the PNG Government to the concerns raised by the asylum
The questions were crafted by the transferees. The answers
were provided by the PNG immigration authority. We provided advice, because
some of the questions were technical in nature. We assisted them to formulate
the answers. Those answers were then agreed on by PNG ICSA and delivered by the
senior PNG ICSA official.
The Salvation Army submission described the meeting in more detail:
...it was a big meeting with around 70 transferee
representatives from all four compounds and interpreters. It was reported to [The
Salvation Army] management through their representative at the meeting, the
Centre Manager, Jeffrey Kiangali, spoke softly and it was difficult to hear
him. He changed the agreed messages in some ways and he was misunderstood or
The central message of the meeting was that the processing of refugee
claims was likely to take a long time, possibly up to four years, and that the
other option available to the asylum seekers was to return to their home
country or to another country where they held residency rights.
Amnesty International described what the asylum seekers were told at the
In the meeting, no new information was given to the asylum
seekers and their questions were not answered. They were told that they would
never be settled in Australia and that if they wished to settle in a third
country, they would receive no support from Australia or PNG to do this. They
were not told when they would be processed, released or resettled in PNG.
Mr Darren Boyd, Regional Managing Director Southern Pacific, G4S, submitted
that the meeting was the trigger for riots later that day:
The riots were then triggered when the PNG immigration
officials presented to the transferees, but failed to confirm a timeline for
processing of refugee applications, suggesting the transferees may need to wait
in the centre for several years before receiving determinations.
The Secretary of the department disputed the view that the lack of
information about the likely timing for completion of the refugee status
determinations was the key contributing factor leading to the riots on 16
He argued that delays in delivering refugee status determination outcomes were
a contributing factor but that there were a range of issues at play:
It is a contributing factor, but if you read the [Cornall]
report it talks about anger at being brought to Papua New Guinea, it talks
about anger that they are not going to be resettled in Australia, it talks about
the processing of refugee status determinations, it talks about anger and
frustration about uncertainty of their future, and it talks about frustration
about lack of information.
Protests and breakout of asylum seekers on 16 February 2014
Protest in Oscar compound
After the meeting between asylum seekers, the department and PNG immigration
officials, protesting occurred in Oscar compound and some asylum seekers broke
out of the compound. As they were returned to Oscar compound, some PNG G4S
guards and other locals entered the compound and violent clashes occurred. Mr
Kevin Pye, Regional Managing Director Manus Island Detention Centre, G4S
described these events to the committee:
On the afternoon of 16 February, subsequent to the breakup of
the meeting between PNG immigration, the department and the community leaders,
there was a breakout from Oscar. Some 35 transferees exited through an open
gate onto Route Pugwash. They were quickly rounded up and brought back in or
came back into the compound under their own volition. Unfortunately, during
that re-entry process some locals in this area entered the compound behind
them—chased them back in. Some G4S PNG national staff, plus these additional
locals, commenced fighting with the Oscar compound transferees. This was
quelled by the intervention of our expatriate staff and other national staff.
The ruckus in Oscar compound set off chants and rioting or protests in both
Mike and Foxtrot compounds. This consisted of both obscene and threatening
chants towards the local community who were gathered out [t]here.
Mr Manning, G4S, argued this incident illustrated a deficiency in the
security infrastructure at Manus Island RPC:
That particular egress of 35 transferees from this centre
relates directly to the lack of a proper security infrastructure. The
opportunity to exit through that gate was because a vehicle was being driven in
to deliver meals. In a normal immigration facility, which would have been more
secure, you would have had an airlock or a sally port or something like that
and there would not have been the opportunity for people to escape the centre
and then put themselves at risk from local intervention by the mobile squad.
That is another example of where the security infrastructure did not provide appropriate
protection to the transferees.
A G4S Safety and Security Officer described the confrontations in Oscar
compound between asylum seekers and PNG G4S guards which occurred during this
I noticed clients had started to arm themselves with weapons
in the form of metal bed support bars. Anything that was a solid object they
grabbed to defend themselves - metal, wood, bins, anything. PNG guards were
trying to attack the clients. The PNG guards dragged out a metal bunk bed and
started to pull it apart to make their own weapons. Most clients started to run
back to their accommodation and barricade themselves in. Expat G4S guards were
trying to keep the clients inside their accommodation and stop the PNG guards
going in and beating...the clients.
This G4S officer explained, that despite a lack of protective equipment,
some G4S expatriate staff did their best to prevent the clashes between PNG
guards and asylum seekers:
The expat guards were like mediators in the middle. We were
without weapons or protection and looking back I think we were quite lucky we
did not suffer any serious injuries. At one point two clients snuck behind the
PNG guards. When they were eventually seen, five to six PNG guards dragged each
client to the ground with head shots - as in head punches, knee thrusts. Once
on the ground, the PNG guards started to kick the clients in the head, torso,
legs and back. Another expat guard and I ran to assist the clients. We had to
jump on the clients to stop the PNG guards kicking them. Initially the PNG
guards didn't stop kicking. I remember being struck many times but my adrenalin
level was quite high so I didn't feel pain until later that night.
Protests in Foxtrot and Mike
There were also protests in Foxtrot and Mike compounds, reportedly
involving chanting directed at local staff and stone throwing between asylum
seekers and locals outside the perimeter fences.
The G4S incident response team (IRT) was deployed to prevent protesting asylum
seekers in Foxtrot compound from entering Mike compound and was ultimately
successful in forcing people back into the Foxtrot compound.
Injuries and arrests
Approximately 25 detainees and five G4S staff sustained injuries
requiring medical treatment as a result of the protests on 16 February 2014.
The injuries included fractures, severe concussion, deep scalp lacerations and
one man whose throat was slashed though this injury was not as serious as it
A G4S Safety and Security Officer described assisting this man:
I noticed one expat security officer physically holding up a
client at the gate's entrance. The client had his throat slashed. I ran
straight to the client. We tried to put him on the ground to give him medical
treatment. He would not go on the ground so we had to kick his legs out. We
ripped his shirt off and put it round his neck as he was starting to bleed out.
He went white in the face and I believe that if we'd waited for medical staff
we would have lost him so we carried him straight to IHMS.
Eight asylum seekers were detained by PNG Police as a result of
incidents which occurred during these protests and charged with criminal
Events of 17 and 18 February 2014
Actions taken during the day of 17
On 17 February 2014, G4S and other service providers undertook
contingency planning, including assessing available capacity in the medical
centre, in preparation for further possible disturbances that evening.
G4S staff sought to remove rocks and other projectiles which had been thrown
into the compounds the previous evening.
In addition, all PNG staff of the service providers were withdrawn from the
Mr Steven Kilburn, who was employed as a Safety and Security Officer with G4S
at the Manus Island RPC, noted that:
There was a large number of local G4S guards on the roadway
outside the compound because they had been removed from the compounds due to
threats of violence. There was also a large number of PNG staff from Spick
& Span, Eurest as well as PNG locals dressed in civilian clothes on the
roadway outside the [Manus Island] RPC. Some were armed with sticks and metal
bars and other weapons.
The transferees had armed themselves. They had broken metal
braces off the beds, tied them together with sheets and had sharpened them up
on concrete; we had seen them doing that during the day. It was too dangerous
for Australian guards to enter the compounds and remove the weapons. The IRT
did sweeps through the compound to try and remove weapons.
PNG locals had also been stockpiling weapons outside the [Manus
Island] RPC and during the day Australian staff had been removing as many
weapons as possible.
Mr Kilburn gave evidence that G4S staff were told to advise asylum
seekers that if G4S had to leave the RPC then their safety could not be
We were told to let the transferees know that if it kicked
off again and there was a riot again, if it got to the point where we had to
leave, that was it. We could not guarantee their safety—which is true. We could
not guarantee their safety if we were forced to leave because of fears for our
That would not have taken much, because we had nothing. We
had no protective equipment, no weapons...and we were stretched for staff. We
were so short of people it was ridiculous...
Events of the night of 17 February
The night of 17 February 2014 saw the most serious events unfold at the
Manus Island RPC. The situation on the ground was monitored by the Emergency
Control Organisation (ECO), a group consisting of G4S staff and representatives
from the department, the Salvation Army and IHMS, who met in the administration
building at the centre.
G4S staff in the ECO were responsible for maintaining a log of events as
Build-up of protest activity
Tension began to build up in Mike compound from around 1.45pm and protest
activity commenced in Oscar compound at approximately 4.45pm.
All non‑essential service provider staff were removed from the centre by
In addition, some non-protesting asylum seekers were moved from Oscar to Bravo
and Charlie compounds at approximately 5.35pm.
Protest activities increased just after 9.30pm.
A G4S Safety and Security Officer described what he saw from Golf 2 (the main
gate into Mike compound):
After the evening meal, the tension at the Centre escalated
and I saw many transferees running around with items of clothing wrapped around
their faces in the form of balaclavas.
Shortly after this, the generator providing power to Mike compound
While it is not clear what caused the power failure, as the generator is
located on the other side of the road to Mike compound, it seems unlikely that
asylum seekers turned the power off.
Power failed and was restored a few times in Mike and Foxtrot compounds over
the next hour.
The PNG Police mobile squad with a dog team was deployed into the
'Green Zone' (the area between Mike and Foxtrot compounds) at 9.44pm.
The department stated that the deployment of the dog squad was 'a matter that
was ultimately authorised and determined through G4S and the PNG police'.
However, G4S gave evidence that the deployment of the dog squad was requested
by the department.
Mr Pye, G4S, explained the rationale for this decision:
That was done as a show of force, essentially. It was into
the neutral zone; it was not into the compounds; it was in between the two
compounds. This mobile squad was the first one to arrive with dogs and we
wanted to make sure that the transferees understood there were dogs in the area
so they were not to come outside because there were dogs. So it was a display.
It was not meant to intimidate them or do anything else. It was meant to
display. But they were quickly withdrawn as missiles were thrown at them.
Mr Kilburn stated that the dog squad also walked past Oscar compound and
that this was intended to deter further protest activity:
The intention, I believe, was a show of force to try to
demonstrate to the transferees: we have got more resources here tonight, there
are more police here tonight, it is a lot more serious; think before you do
anything because we have now got all this extra force in here to deal with
anything that goes on. So, yes, the dog squad did walk through and it did
create quite a ruckus as they walked past Oscar compound. They stopped at the
front of Oscar compound. A lot of the transferees were at the fence. The dogs
started barking. The guys kicked the fence.
The G4S IRT was deployed to assist G4S staff located in the Green Zone
who were facing rocks and missiles being thrown by asylum seekers. These staff
were extracted and the IRT withdrew from the Green Zone at about 10.00pm 'under
heavy attack' from asylum seekers.
Amnesty International gave evidence that several asylum seekers stated that
people outside the centre started throwing rocks at them, not the other way
Mr McCaffery, G4S, described the intensity of the rioting:
At this stage, I was looking into the compound, observing
violence of transferee on transferee. There was a hail of missiles of all
sorts, from metal poles, pieces of glass and rocks that were the size of my
fist and greater. I remember at one stage looking into the night sky and seeing
the sky completely filled with missiles. That would ebb and flow through the
evening, through the hours that we were there, from times when it was that
level of violence to a lesser degree of stones being thrown.
Protesters destroyed the fences between Mike and Foxtrot compounds at
10.05pm, allowing protesters from these two compounds to link up.
Mr McCaffery gave evidence that, at this point, there was violence between
asylum seekers which resulted in injuries.
At 10.37pm the IRT withdrew completely from Mike compound.
At around 11.15pm, the IRT entered Foxtrot compound to allow approximately 400
non‑protesting transferees to evacuate to the naval base soccer oval.
Mr Cornall AO gave a more detailed description of what he concluded had occurred
at this point:
...the incident response team, led by a leader called Amy,
entered Foxtrot compound during the course of the night of the 17th and pushed
their way progressively, in three stages, to where the fence line had been
between Foxtrot and Mike compounds. As they reached each of those forward
points, the transferees who wanted to be taken away from the chaotic situation
were taken out behind them. Then they moved forward to the next point and more
transferees were taken out.
Involvement of PNG Police
According to media reports, Deputy Commissioner Simon Kauba of the PNG
Police has stated that PNG Police did not enter the Manus Island RPC either
before or during the unrest on 17 February.
However, the committee received convincing evidence that members of the PNG Police
mobile squad did enter Mike compound and that as they did so they discharged
More specifically, gunshots were heard from 11.22pm and G4S stated that
at this point the PNG Police mobile squad and other PNG nationals (including
some G4S staff members) entered Mike compound and began fighting with rioting asylum
Mr Boyd of G4S told the committee:
This small-arms fire signalled the break-in of the police and
the local community. They forced in from the north and from the south, and in
fact one of the photos you saw was the fence that was forced by the police and
local communities coming in left and right. They commenced fighting with the
transferees in [Mike] compound. These were Mike and Foxtrot transferees. This
was witnessed by the IRT who was here. At this time this reinforced IRT who had
been operating now for two hours had been hit with rocks, sticks and everything
else that the transferees could throw at them. Some of those national staff
members broke ranks and moved in to join the fracas.
The committee received photographs of some of the bullet holes in Mike
Mr Cornall AO noted that several of the bullet holes he observed during an
inspection of Mike compound 'were at about chest level for a man of medium
A G4S Safety and Security Officer estimated that:
Approximately 20 to 40 shots were fired from different
locations in the vicinity of Mike Compound.
Correspondence between G4S and the department indicates that on the
night of 17 February, the PNG police force present at the centre was 46
officers, comprising 36 mobile squad members and ten dog squad members
(with four dogs).
There was some confusion at the time amongst G4S officers and other
service provider staff about whether the PNG Police mobile squad had been asked
to take over responsibility for restoring order inside Mike compound.
Mr Kilburn recalled that:
A message was given over the radio that there are
non-combatants in the mess hall, that we had to withdraw the IRT and we could
not guarantee their safety. The Police needed to do whatever they needed to do
to ensure the safety of those people. The PNG police were then in charge and
shortly after I heard the first shots. There were a number of what sounded like
shotgun blasts and then some automatic weapon fire. A message come over the
radio saying they're firing warning shots in the air, and not to panic, because
the sound of gunshots had caused panic amongst the transferees in the other
Similarly, another G4S Safety and Security Officer, submitted that:
It came over the radio the compound had been handed over to
the PNG police, XXX asked for the last to be repeated and again I heard that
all staff was to fall back to Golf 1 as PNG police has been given command of
However, Mr Boyd gave evidence that G4S did not request the PNG Police
to enter the compound:
The reaction of the PNG police, locals and some staff seems
to have been a response to racist and obscene taunts by transferees directed at
PNG locals, as well as the barrage of rocks and other projectiles from within
the centre. At no stage did G4S request or invite the PNG police to enter the
centre whilst the riots were taking place.
Some G4S staff, at considerable personal risk, sought to protect asylum
seekers from attack.
Mr Pye of G4S told the committee:
A number of others, both national and expat, moved in because
they could see what was happening, and uncommanded commenced, basically, rescue
activity. These nationals and expats, at great risk to their own lives,
intervened in the fighting. What they did was form a circle with their own
bodies and shields, and they started pulling transferees into that to protect
them from the police and the nationals. When the circle was full, they formed a
human corridor, where they escorted them down to the dining room. Over 306
people were put in the dining room and guarded against what was going on
Attack on Mr Barati
In terms of the specific attack on Mr Reza Barati, Amnesty International
Numerous witness reports state that he was attacked using
fists, feet and bats by a group of G4S staff and at least one local staff
member employed by The Salvation Army. Several eyewitnesses reported that one
attacker picked up a large rock and hit [Mr Barati] on the head with it several
A G4S Safety and Security Officer who witnessed the attack on Mr Barati provided
a quite similar account:
...I looked up on the top floor of MA6 and saw a transferee on
his hands and knees and then saw a national IRT member kick the transferee in
the face. He fell down onto the floor. Whilst he was attempting to get to his
hands and knees, another national IRT member ran up and also kicked him in the
face, again sending the transferee the floor face first. I then saw a male PNG
national come in from the other side of the accommodation block... During this
time a transferee was helping the transferee who had been kicked in the face by
grabbing him by the waist and putting his hand up (as if to say no don't hit
him) towards the [PNG] national... The transferee who had been kicked in the face
was still on his hands and knees facing downwards when I saw the national raise
his arms above his head, he was holding the piece of wood that I had seen him
with earlier. He brought this down on the back of the transferee's head.
G4S submitted that it had re-established control of the Centre by
shortly after 1.00am on 18 February 2014.
Treatment of injuries
At least 51 asylum seekers sustained injuries, some of them serious,
between 16 and 18 February 2014. Mr Barati sustained the most grievous injury
and died a few hours after he was attacked. Other serious injuries included one
asylum seeker who lost an eye and another who had a gunshot wound in the
buttocks. There were also injuries to at least 18 staff members including one
An officer of the department described the injuries:
There were: lacerations and abrasions, fractures, soft tissue
injuries, contusions, sprains, dental trauma, ligament injuries, gunshot wounds
to one person, head injury, an eye enucleation and haematomas. Treatment that
was provided was appropriate to the nature and extent of each injury.
On 17 February 2014, IHMS had evacuated to the Bibby Progress vessel and
set up a makeshift triage point there to deal with injured detainees, who
started arriving between 11.00pm and 11.30pm.
Mr Pye of G4S explained:
As the police and the other illegal entrants started to
vacate, we commenced clearance of the accommodation blocks' primary triage and
care. It was at this point, around this time, that Reza Barati and other
injured transferees were identified, brought forward and evacuated. The triage
in this area took a period of time, and they were evacuated down to the [Bibby]
as quickly as possible.
A Salvation Army employee described how service provider staff were
woken up and asked to assist with the treatment of the injured who had been
brought down to the wharf for treatment:
We were instructed by [The Salvation Army] to pair up, glove
up and assist the medical team with whatever was required. Caring [sic] bodies,
attending to the wounded, hold drip lines make up beds, clean up wounded and
offer general support.
Dr Mark Parrish the Regional Medical Director of IHMS gave evidence that
IHMS had in place plans to respond to a mass casualty event including by
developing close relationships with the local hospitals and other hospitals in
Port Moresby and Australia.
In relation to general level of care provided to asylum seekers and the
specific response to the incidents of 16 to 18 February, he told the committee:
I certainly think that we provide a high level of health care
to patients in our setting. As an example of that, the response around the
incidents of the 16th, 17th and 18th was very good. We had a huge amount of
support from the department with the ability to obtain their ambulances and, if
necessary, supplies that we were looking at bringing in urgently should things
However, Mr Kilburn submitted that the facilities available to treat the
injured asylum seekers at the RPC were inadequate:
There were approx 20 people in Charlie compound a number were
severely injured with injuries including broken bones, eye and other facial
injuries. We did not have enough facilities to deal with the injured
transferees and the medical attention was very limited until extra medical
staff arrived on the island. I was given 2 boxes of Panadol and told to give it
out as required. Transferees were moaning in agony throughout the night we had
no access to clothing or basics such as soap shampoo, etc. for the transferees.
Some transferees clothing was covered in blood.
One young injured man was so traumatized that he soiled
himself. Expat staff members had to try and find something for him to wear...
Transferees with facial injuries could not eat the food
provided so we attempted to find something for them to drink to keep their strength
up; however, even simple things like a straw were not available. Expat staff
obtained a tin of Sustagen and fed one transferee with a teaspoon.
The three most critically injured patients, including Mr Barati, were
transferred to Lorengau General Hospital.
A G4S Security and Safety Officer described the evacuation of these asylum
seekers from the Manus Island RPC:
...we used riot shields and carried three transferees down the
stairs and put them in the back of vehicles (4x4 utes) so they could be evacuated
for medical treatment.
I also helped staff put the transferee who was hit on the
head [Mr Barati] onto a stretcher and carried him to the waiting ambulance. As
I was carrying him I was shouting to him," to wake up and stay with us,
talk to us".
Mr Barati died in the ambulance en route to Lorengau General Hospital.
There are a number of areas of factual dispute in relation to the events
leading up to and during the incidents of 16 to 18 February 2014 at the Manus
Island RPC. The committee is conscious that, particularly in traumatic and
chaotic circumstances, recollections are bound to differ. The committee does
not consider that it needs to form judgements on each matter where the evidence
diverged or was contradictory. For the purpose of fulfilling the terms of
reference for the inquiry, the committee considers it received evidence which
gives a sufficiently clear factual picture to reach conclusions about the
primary causes of the events in the Manus Island RPC.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page