28 April 2016
Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has ruled that the detention of asylum seekers by Australia on Manus Island is in breach of the country’s constitution. Australia’s policies of paying Papua New Guinea to hold asylum seekers and refugees who try to reach its shores have been extensively criticised by NGOs and human rights monitors, arguing that Australia needs to stop outsourcing their responsibility for refugees. After the decision, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea announced that the detention centre in the island would be closing and called on the Australian government to make swift arrangements for the people being held there.
Although NGOs such as the Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International have called on Australia to prioritise human rights and resettle the people detained on the island to Australia, the country’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has argued that people can instead be settled in Papua New Guinea or returned to their countries of origin.
“We must not destroy our remaining credibility by trying to force other nations into accepting people our Government doesn’t want to bring to Australia”, urged the CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, Paul Power. “The better path is to accept that those currently on Manus Island must come to Australia and to put our national energy into working cooperatively with our neighbours to find better answers for persecuted people in our region.”
This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 29 April 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.