Papua New Guinea

42 Fijians to provide security on Manus Island as tension mounts over imminent closure

A Papua New Guinea company has hired Fijian personnel to work at the controversial Manus Island detention centre, scheduled for closure next Tuesday.

Staff Writers

October 27, 2017 1:14 pm

The group, recruited by PNG-based Paladin Solutions, will depart Fiji on Monday pending clearance from the employment ministry.

The Minister for Employment, Jone Usamate met the group in Suva today. (Photo by Newswire)
The Minister for Employment, Jone Usamate met the group in Suva today.  (Photo by Newswire)

Paladin’s local agent, Isireli Tamanituakula said his team would stay outside the detention centre fence and only patrol the outer boundary.

“There are 42 personnel, partly military, ex-police officers, ex-prison officers, and civilians. They have been chosen to serve under Paladin Solutions Papua New Guinea for the task of looking after asylum seekers on Manus Island.”

Tamanituakula said the group would be on a one-year assignment, serving for three months at a time before having one-month leave back in Fiji under a leave plan.

Isireli Tamanituakula is the Fiji agent for PNG-based Paladin Solutions. (Photo by Newswire)
Isireli Tamanituakula is the Fiji agent for PNG-based Paladin Solutions. (Photo by Newswire)

The Minister for Employment, Jone Usamate visited the group at the United Club in Suva today.

In an interview, Minister Usamate said his ministry’s role was to ensure that Fijians are protected.

“What we have been able to do is to work with the company that is recruiting to make sure they meet the requirements that we have in the ministry…Our officials have gone in to have a look at their contracts, to make sure our people are protected when they go there [Manus Island],” said Usamate.

Minister Usamate said he was aware of the situation on Manus Island.

“Where they are going to work is not an easy situation, but I think the people that have been selected should be able to cope with the given situation…It’s going to be a delicate situation that requires finesse and skill…I know that our people that are going there have those qualities.”

Australian officials have already told the more-than-700 men still living on Manus Island that water and electricity would be shut off, and access to food and water stopped on Sunday. The men have been told they would be given “food packs” to last two days.

Staff from the employment ministry vetted the groups contracts and other details. (Photo by Newswire)
Staff from the employment ministry vetted the group’s contracts and other details. (Photo by Newswire)

The refugees and asylum seekers still inside the Manus detention centre have said they will refuse to leave, even when the PNG military seek to take over the compound. They say they are unsafe in the Manus community.

The October 31 closure of the detention centre was sparked by a PNG Supreme Court decision 18 months ago that ruled that the operation was “illegal and unconstitutional”.

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