Refugee advocates say the crisis at the Manus Island processing centre continues today, with hundreds of detainees still on hunger strike, while others have been rounded up and interrogated — some say tortured — to identify the ringleaders of the week-long protest. They say drinking water has been withheld from detainees.

But new Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the situation is under control. In media reports this morning Dutton dismissed claims about food and water being withheld as “complete rubbish” and reprimanded the media for reporting them.

So who is correct? Unless the detainees involved can provide clear video evidence — an expectation that is unreasonable in the circumstances — we may never know for certain. The Manus detention centre is on a remote island off the coast of another country, which has the ability to restrict access to foreign journalists.

Bernard Keane argues today that offshore processing can be humane, if done correctly. I disagree. We need checks and balances on this high-stakes, billion-dollar industry. Offshore processing can never be transparent because it is, by definition, out of bounds for Australian journalists — our media are subject to the laws of a foreign government when reporting on it.

The Australian media must have access to Australian refugee processing centres — and the best way to ensure that access is to process asylum seekers here in Australia.

Marni Cordell

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