The PNG Prime Minister Has Announced The Closure Of Manus Island Detention Centre
"Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum seekers."
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has just announced that the Manus Island detention centre will close. The Australian government is now required to make “alternative arrangements” for the 850 people being held in the facility
A timeframe for the closure hasn’t been specified yet, but Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said this afternoon: “As I stated recently at the at the Australian Press Club, we did not anticipate the asylum seekers to be kept as long as they have at the Manus centre.”
Manus Island detention centre to close, Papua New Guinea prime minister says https://t.co/7C8ffIua1n
— The Guardian (@guardian) April 27, 2016
Yesterday the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea found that Australia’s ongoing detention of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island was actually illegal. The court ruled that holding over 850 people on Manus, “breached the right to personal liberty in the PNG constitution”.
— ABC The Drum (@ABCthedrum) April 26, 2016
This was huge news to those who oppose Australia’s strict asylum seeker policy (half of the people detained on Manus Island were found to be refugees) particularly as Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ordered that the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments must begin dismantling the process immediately.
It’s hard to know what the Australian government’s “arrangements” will turn out to be. Recently the operators of the detention centre have attempted to move some refugees into a ‘transit centre’ (Fairfax says that only 74 were offered this move, and only eight of more than 1000 asylum seekers have been resettled in PNG). Some refugees are allowed to leave the centre “under certain conditions” but even then they must be driven out by bus, because the detention centre is in the middle of a naval base. In short: the process of moving people out of detention centres has been very muddled and contingent on shifting bureaucracy up until this point.
Those with unsuccessful applications for asylum are told that they must go back to their country of origin. Last month the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea said of Manus Island: “we cannot hold the refugees there forever”. The Supreme Court’s decision proposes that detaining both refugees and asylum seekers is illegal, due to the restrictions on their movements.
It is well time to close these awful detention camps on Manus &Nauru and start treating people like human beings. Anything less is senseless
— Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) April 26, 2016
It has been widely established that Manus Island is a dangerous place, where people who are already traumatised face abuse, violence, heavy restrictions and inadequete medical facilities. The United Nations have even compared the conditions there to “torture”. It’s still unclear what will come of the Supreme Court’s decision and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s announcement today, and if the ruling will also extend to the detention centre on Nauru.
— Craig P (@craig7saints) April 26, 2016
Feature image via Unaligned Individuals/Pozible.