Falsely accused Manus inmate needs urgent legal representation

By Helen Merrick

Campaign Completed on
23-01-2017

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Ahmed*, a man detained in Australia's Manus Island Detention centre, has recently been falsely accused and charged with a crime by PNG police under advisement from Wilson Security staff. Ahmed has been targeted by Security staff for some time, who are aware he has been maintaining a dossier about incidents of abuse and harassment inside the Detention centre. Over the 40 months he has been in detention, Ahmed has been subjected to much trauma, including witnessing the murder of Reza Berati, being beaten, locked in solitary confinement and jailed for 24 hours without food, drink or access to a lawyer. Ahmed's physical and mental health is already significantly deteriorated and the stress of this case is placing his mental health in greater danger. It is also of vital importance that he not have a false conviction against his name, as to have one may exclude him from resettlement options outside of PNG, such as the US. Ahmed desperately needs legal representation at his court case. Please help with the small amount needed to cover the lawyer’s fees and travel costs so that Ahmed can have a proper defense against this false conviction.

*Name changed for privacy and safety reasons.

The Background

Ahmed* is currently detained at Manus Island Detention Centre, PNG. He left on his journey to Australia seeking safety and protection prior to the July 19, 2013 changes in Australian policy which has seen him subjected to indefinite detention in Australia's Manus Island Black site. Over the course of the past 40 months of detention, Ahmed has been subjected to much trauma, and he has become a target of guards in the centre. His physical and mental health have deteriorated significantly and he suffers persistent migraines and headaches, and is constantly anxious and fearful of being attacked. Given the most recent report of two men being savagely beaten by PNG immigration officials and police on New Year’s Eve, it is obvious that such fears are justified.

During Ahmed's time in detention he has been repeatedly beaten by guards and twice taken to 'Chauka' (Chauka was an isolation compound separate to the rest of the detention centre, from which numerous reports of physical and mental abuse and torture have originated). He witnessed the murder of Reza Berati when guards, police and locals attacked the men in the detention centre in February 2014. During the time at Manus when mobile phones were still contraband, Ahmed had his phone confiscated twice. On the second occasion Ahmad was beaten and dragged down metal stairs by his feet. He was then taken to the MAA (Managed Accommodation Area, or solitary confinement) and left there for 24 hours.

A mobile phone for Ahmed, as with the many other hundreds of men at Manus, is a lifeline and is used to communicate with family, emotional supports and those who can advocate on his behalf. He also used his phone to maintain a dossier on individual security guards and instances of abuse in the detention centre. Due to fears about his safety if his phone was confiscated again, he mostly kept these files elsewhere. He has provided witness statements to the International Criminal Court and to Slater and Gordon lawyers.

After being advised by the magistrate at his first court hearing that he may have a case against the PNG police and to seek advice from a lawyer, Ahmed appeared at the second hearing (again unfortunately without a lawyer) to find that the PNG police stated they were not ready. If a lawyer had been present the case would likely have been dismissed. The next date is set for February and we must ensure that Ahmed has a lawyer present to represent him.


How We Can Help

We are seeking help to cover the costs of Ahmed's legal representation. We have secured a PNG lawyer who is willing to represent him and need funds to cover the various costs associated with the court case. The costs include: return airfare from Port Moresby to Manus (AUD$500); expenses such as 3 nights accommodation ($400); meals ($260); administration costs such as phone and printing ($350), Care Hire ($400) and an honorarium for the lawyer’s work ($500).

ETA  5th January 2017

So many people have responded so generously and quickly to this campaign that we reached our original base target in under 2 days. We will continue to keep the campaign open and have increased the amount in order to collect additional funds.

Once the costs for Ahmed’s case ae covered, all excess funds will go towards starting a fighting fund for emergency legal costs for other men on Manus. The recent events of the New Year, where men from Manus camps have been bashed  and held in police cells reinforce the need for supporters to be able to quickly access funds to provide help. Often men placed in this position are not able to put up the bail required for them to be released (even if they have not officially been charged). In most cases they have to cover bail by borrowing money from others who can ill afford it. Our fighting fund would ensure we have money that can quickly be accessed to post bail and provide other urgent support where necessary.

Please donate whatever you can and help by sharing this campaign widely.


 

Who we are

Anne Moon is a refugee advocate who has supported and advocated for the men on Manus for over three years. She is in personal contact with many men on Manus, including Ahmed. As well as providing emotional support, Anne provides practical support in the form of help with medical and legal documents and sending needed items such as clothes. She recently travelled to Manus to visit some of the men and saw first hand the conditions they face daily.

 

Dr Helen Merrick is an academic and member of RAR South-eastern Tasmania. She is assisting Anne and helps raise money for this and similar causes such as phone credit for Manus and Nauru.

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Team Members

Helen Merrick

Anne Moon

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