Australia defiant in face of PNG ruling island detention camps are illegal

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Australia’s practice of detaining asylum seekers on PNG’s northern Manus Island was illegal and must stop. Papua New Guinea’s highest court said the detentions breached the country’s constitution. More than 800 people are detained on Manus Island on behalf of Australia. The detention centre on Nauru houses about 500 people and has been widely criticised by the United Nations and human rights agencies for harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse. However, Australia said its position of deporting illegal migrants would remain unchanged.

It does not alter Australia’s border protection policies – they remain unchanged.

Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton

Under Australia’s controversial immigration laws, anyone intercepted while trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to camps in Nauru and Manus Island. "Those in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre found to be refugees are able to resettle in Papua New Guinea. Those found not to be refugees should return to their country of origin,“ said Immigration minister Peter Dutton. Australia’s asylum seeker policy has attracted international criticism from human rights groups. "People have been detained for over three years in contravention of the laws of Papua New Guinea in abusive conditions,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia Director at Human Rights Watch.

It is time to stop the abuse of vulnerable people who only ask for safety and the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

Elaine Pearson