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Minister Scott Morrison has bolstered the number of security guards on Manus Island detention centre by more than a third , following days of violence that left one asylum seeker dead and scores of others severely injured.
On Wednesday afternoon Mr Morrison announced he would be sending the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, and a team of private security guards to the Papua New Guinea island.
‘‘After what has been a very difficult 48 hours, the centre is now operational”, Mr Morrison said.
General Campbell will arrive in Manus Island on Thursday to assess the ‘‘stability’’ of the centre, Mr Morrison said.
“He is highly experienced skilled in dealing with issues like this,” Mr Morrison said.
General Campbell is expected to assess ‘‘personal and protective’’ security measures at the centre, before reporting back to the minister.
On Wednesday afternoon, 51 Wilson Security staff were also being sent to Manus Island. On Tuesday Mr Morrison said there were 100 security staff on ‘‘standby’’ if tensions rose for a third night. They will join 130 security forces who were sent there a few weeks ago, Mr Morrison said.
There has been heavy criticism of Australia’s failure to protect asylum seekers since mass violence started on Sunday night, leaving one asylum seeker dead, 12 critical and 77 injured.Clive Palmer from the Palmer United Party has called for Mr Morrison’s resignation, saying the Immigration Minister had ‘‘blood on his hands’’.
‘‘We know for sure people are in danger, people have been killed. It’s a breach of an international convention not to provide proper security. They have been detained against their will and they are being subjected to attacks,’’ Mr Palmer said.
‘‘You can’t say a policy is succeeding when people are dying,’’ he told Fairfax Media.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young repeated her calls for an independent inquiry to be established, including a review of Mr Morrison’s behaviour.
“The minister’s conduct needs to be a part of any such investigation, the results of which will determine the viability of his continuation in the role,” she said.
But the Coalition and Labor have maintained their support of the offshore detention centre in the face of condemnation from refugee advocates, who have called for the immediate closure of a centre that they argue is so dangerous it now mirrors the conditions of countries people were initially fleeing from.
David Manne, the executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Centre said asylum seekers who had fled killings, torture and arbitrary detention were now facing the same reality on Manus Island.
‘‘These types of conditions, they break people, and crush them,’’ he said.
Labor spokesman on immigration, Richard Marles, has also called for an inquiry.
‘‘We need to make sure the Abbott government is on top of this meltdown at Manus Island. ‘‘What about better oversight of what’s going on there? Clearly there is no control over what’s happening.
‘‘The Abbott government has questions to answer.’’
Amnesty International refugee coordinator Graham Thom said his organisation saw the violence as a ‘‘clear breach’’ of Australia’s United Nations’ obligations to the safety of asylum seekers.
‘‘The reality is we are the ones who are transferring them there, and we have ultimate control over these people,’’ he said.
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