Manus Island asylum seeker charged with raping school student at hotel

A 31-year-old man detained at Australia's offshore processing centre on Manus Island has been charged with raping a young woman in the provincial centre of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea police say.

Manus Province commander David Yapu said the accused was alleged to have met his 18-year-old victim in the town, before taking her to the nearby Harbourside hotel and raping her multiple times.

"The victim suffered loss of blood until she managed to escape from the room," Yapu told Fairfax Media. The incident occurred on January 17.

The victim attempted to reach safety at a relative's house but "fainted" at the side of a river until she was rescued by a passers-by, he said. She was then taken to Lorengau General Hospital for treatment.

Yapu said the victim was a ninth-grade school student. She had been discharged from hospital and was receiving counselling so she could return to school, he said.

He said the alleged attacker was a 31-year-old asylum seeker from Sri Lanka. Yapu said the man's asylum application had not yet been determined.

He appeared before court on Monday but the matter was adjourned until Wednesday, when an interpreter could be provided. Yapu said the matter would go before PNG's National Court of Justice and the maximum penalty was life imprisonment.

"It's a very serious crime," he said. "I really felt sorry for the victim."

Asylum seekers at the Manus Island processing centre have been able to visit Lorengau during the day since April, when the PNG Supreme Court ruled their detention was unconstitutional and the centre would have to be closed.

But the subsequent interaction between asylum centres and locals has not been without problems for the community and police.

"We have been warning the refugees to respect the laws of the locals, of Papua New Guinea," Yapu told Fairfax Media.

"You are free to walk around but please make sure that you respect the locals. If you come in conflict with the law, police will not hesitate to deal with you.

"I want the message to be delivered to them. The bulk of them are okay but there are a few [troublemakers]. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse."

According to the most recent statistics published by Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection, there were 871 men detained at the Manus Island facility at the end of November.

Australia struck a deal with the Obama administration to accept an unknown number of refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, but transfers are yet to begin, and there has been speculation the new Trump administration could back away from the agreement.

US officials were reportedly on Manus Island last week and told refugees that interviews would begin in February ahead of their potential resettlement in the US. Turnbull government ministers have remained optimistic the deal will be honoured by Trump