An asylum seeker has told a Papua New Guinea court about eating worm-infested bread and prison-like conditions at the Manus Island detention centre.
He’s told an inquiry into whether detainees’ human rights are being catered to under PNG’s constitution that “angry” Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had told them to not even dream about coming to Australia.
The 25-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker told the court that in his six months at the Australian-commissioned detention centre, he often had to pull apart bread to get rid of worms.
“We find worms inside the cereal and bread,” he said on Wednesday.
Speaking through a translator, he said camp authorities had stopped using the cereal but still handed out the bread.
“With the bread, we’re eating it everyday but we find it has worms,” he said.
“We throw out the parts of the bread with worms then we eat the rest of the bread.”
The man – the first witness to appear before Justice David Cannings inquiry – said Mr Morrison visited the centre and told asylum seekers not to dream about coming to Australia.
“You are not going to reach Australia,” the court was told Mr Morrison said to asylum seekers.
“Even in your dreams, you are not going to make it to Australia.”
“He was a bit angry,” the asylum seeker said.
The man, who told the court he left behind his wife and two children in Iraq after he was targeted by a terrorist group, said toilets at the centre were a “miserable situation”.
“We seldom have soap in the toilets. Most of the time there’s no water in the bathrooms,” he said.
“Four days ago, because they had knowledge of the delegation coming to the camp, they started to clean. Not just this time, but every time a high figure is coming in.”
Justice David Cannings, who is heading the inquiry, and a court-appointed party visited the centre on Tuesday.
When asked by public prosecutor Frazer Pitpit how he felt about coming to court, the asylum seeker said he felt human for the first time in a long time.
“I have a right to sit with people and they are going to listen to what I say,” he said.
“For the first time I feel I am human. No one considered me an asylum seeker.
“I felt that I don’t have any rights in this place.”
The inquiry is set to hear from up to six asylum seekers on Wednesday.
The hearings continue in Lorengau, the Manus Island capital.