| SYDNEY, June 10
SYDNEY, June 10 Security company G4S
said on Tuesday a deadly riot at an Australian immigration
detention centre this year could have been avoided if the
government had provided better security infrastructure and
processed languishing asylum applications.
Australia uses offshore detention centres in Papua New
Guinea and the tiny South Pacific island nation of Nauru to
process would-be refugees trying to reach the country, often in
unsafe boats after paying people smugglers in Indonesia.
One asylum seeker was killed and more than 60 injured during
riots in February at one such facility on Manus Island in Papua
Darren Boyd, regional managing director for G4S, which at
the time provided security for the facility, told a Senate
committee that the government had ignored repeated requests for
proper security infrastructure even as security deteriorated.
"The severity of the violence on 17 February resulted from a
lack of security fencing at the Centre that was fit for
purpose," Boyd said.
Australia's tough stance on asylum-seekers, including
offshore processing and a blanket ban on people arriving by boat
settling in Australia, has been criticised by the United Nations
and other groups as illegal and inhumane.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a November
report neither centre had a "fair and efficient system for
assessing refugee claims" nor provided "safe and humane
conditions of treatment in detention".
Tension on Manus Island soared after the refugees, angered
over being told by immigration officials that it could take
years to process their applications, began taunting island
residents through a flimsy perimeter fences.
Papua New Guinea police, together with PNG employees of
services providers at the facility including G4S, forced their
way into the facility and attacked the asylum seekers, leaving
one man dead, an independent inquiry found.
"The key factor contributing to the riots taking place was
the lack of processing of the transferees' refugee claims," Boyd
G4S has a chequered history. In 2012, it failed to provide
enough staff for the London Olympics and has since been involved
in problems with an electronic tagging contract in Britain and
unrest at prisons it has run in South Africa and Britain.
Just weeks after the riot, Australian management firm
Transfield Services won a A$1.2 billion ($1.12
billion)contract to run both of Australia's Pacific island
immigration detention centres.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)