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Detainees punished after photos leaked
Inside the Manus Island detention camp. Picture: supplied

Refugee advocates say detainees on Manus Island have been punished after photos of their camp were smuggled out and published.

Cameras on the tablet computers they use were disabled and they were banned from the internet for three days.

The photos were the first to show the conditions for boat people sent to the island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

Some, including children, opted to sleep outside to escape the heat and humidity, often without mosquito nets despite the risk of malaria.

Other photos showed poorly fitted flyscreens over bedroom doors and windows, which offered little protection from disease-carrying insects and no privacy.

The bedrooms are not air-conditioned, despite the heat and humidity regularly pushing the summer temperature above 40C.

The pictures were sent last week to Melbourne refugee advocate Pamela Curr, who said there had been repercussions for the asylum seekers.

"These people came from Iran, where they are censored, to Australia, where they are experiencing the same censorship," she said.

"We may not torture or kill them but we will lock them up and deny them the right of free speech."

The Immigration Department defended disabling the cameras, saying recording devices had never been allowed in detention centres.

"We do have a duty of care around the privacy of all people in our care and must ensure we protect the operational integrity of our facilities," a spokeswoman said.

The department also countered criticism that vulnerable asylum seekers with mental health issues were being released with little follow-up care after the suicide of a Tamil man in Perth on Saturday.

Supporters say the 31-year-old was terrified he would be sent back to Sri Lanka, where he had allegedly been tortured.

The man was also depressed over being separated from his wife and four-year-old daughter, who remained in Sri Lanka, and about the risk to their safety.

He had previously attempted suicide several times.

The department said detainees released on bridging visas lived largely independently.

If they arrived in Australia before August 13, they had access to Medicare. Those who came after August 13 had access to basic health services, including mental health services.