Asylum-seekers ‘tortured’ in PNG detention centre

Fr Giorgio Licini (The Catholic Leader)

Sleep deprivation could be a form of torture being used on asylum-seekers detained in Papua New Guinea’s Bomana detention centre, a local priest has claimed. Source: Radio New Zealand.

By Benjamin Robinson-Drawbridge, Radio New Zealand

Eighteen men remain in the Australian-built immigration detention centre in Port Moresby, where they were locked up in August after seven years on Manus Island. About 30 have been released, malnourished and psychologically broken, after agreeing to return to the countries they fled.

The general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG, Fr Giorgio Licini, has been providing pastoral care to some of those freed from Bomana. Fr Licini said they had reported sleepless nights during their internment.

“That is what they confirm: scarcity of food, sleeping conditions very hard. No pillow, noise around the facility – in some parts there are loudspeakers. I heard them mention spending nights sleepless because of noise. What they understand is that all this is done for them to sign,” he said.

“I wouldn’t know if it is deliberate but certainly it is hard to sleep … If you want to torture a little bit these guys – it is a kind of psychological and physical pressure to convince them to sign this document.”

Fr Licini said agreeing to Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) was the only way out of Bomana for the asylum-seekers. Many refused to apply for refugee status in PNG, claiming they were trafficked there by Australia. Others were denied by a refugee determination process that’s been labelled a farce.

Of the 18 still inside Bomana, 10 have also consented to AVR and could be out the end of the month, he said. About 220 men formerly detained on Manus Island for seeking asylum in Australia remain in limbo in PNG.

“It’s a hard life because they have nothing to do, waiting for a solution that nobody knows what exactly,” Fr Licini said.

At least one refugee accepted by the US has been held back because of poor health, the priest said.

“Even if the New Zealand option comes up I would perfectly understand if New Zealand says ‘these two or five or 10, no thank you, because they are going to be a burden for the rest of their lives’.

“Australia ruined them. Why should others take people that Australia ruined?”


‘Australia ruined them’: Asylum seeker ‘torture’ at PNG’s Bomana (Radio New Zealand

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