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Issue #1745      August 24, 2016

Manus refugees cannot be settled in PNG

Peter Dutton is desperately trying to avoid the implications of the PNG Supreme Court ruling last April that the agreement between Australia and PNG was unlawful.

No amount of huffing and puffing or repeating the tired phrase that “no refugee from Manus will be resettled in Australia” can alter the fact the asylum seekers were taken to Manus unlawfully.

“Peter Dutton is shamefully trying to avoid the decisions of the PNG Supreme Court. He has to face up to the fact that Australia has responsibility for those people that Australia illegally transferred to Manus Island,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The PNG Supreme Court hearing on Monday August 22 will determine the future of those who have been held unlawfully and systematically denied their human rights.

“Peter Dutton and [PNG Prime Minister] Peter O’Neill will be required to accept the court’s rulings. People who were illegally taken to Manus Island cannot be forced to stay in PNG against their will.

“Lawyers acting for the asylum seekers and refugees on Manus will seek orders for the immediate, and unconditional release of all those on Manus, and for those who wish to go, to be returned to Australia.

“There is no durable or secure settlement arrangement in PNG. It is a joke that Dutton keeps referring to resettlement in PNG. He should stop providing gratuitous advice to the Australian media and start to implement the PNG Supreme Court decision. It is increasingly obvious that Dutton has no grasp of the real situation that confronts the Australian government.

“People have been brutalised on Manus for over three years, and have been waiting since April when the court ordered that they be freed.

“For those who do not wish to go to Australia – some people have families in other countries – PNG and Australia will need to secure safe, acceptable third countries and provide travel documents in order for them to travel to that third country.

“Peter Dutton also needs to act immediately to release all the Manus asylum seekers and refugees being held in Australia.

“About Nauru, Peter Dutton also knows that the government’s own Moss review established the truthfulness of the incident reports that were reviewed in 2015. It is the Minister who can no longer be taken seriously.”

Camp closure welcome

The Refugee Action Coalition has welcomed the announcement from PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that the Manus Island detention will be closed soon.

But the victims of the unlawful transfer and detention have already been waiting since April 26 for both the Australian and PNG government to comply with the Supreme Court orders that Manus be closed.

“We are also concerned that the Australian and PNG governments are trying to pre-empt the full-bench Supreme Court hearing that is scheduled for Monday August 22. The Manus prisoners have been brutalised and tortured for over three years”, said Ian Rintoul.

“At Monday’s hearing, lawyers for the Manus asylum seekers and refugees will be seeking orders for the unconditional release of all detainees and the return of all of them to Australia. Anything less than their unconditional release and return to Australia will be a denial of justice.

The PNG Supreme Court decision of April 26 found that the agreement between Australia and PNG to transfer asylum seekers from Australia to Manus, was itself, unlawful. There is no lawful basis on which any of the prisoners taken to Manus by the Australian government can remain in PNG.

“We are also calling for the government to immediately release, and provide permanent visas to all the Manus asylum seekers who are being held in Australia’s mainland detention centres, or in community detention,” said Rintoul.

“None of the people brought from Manus to Australia can be sent back there. They should be released.

“One Syrian refugee is in Villawood, has been held there over two years and has been unable to contact his family for over seven months. Immigration has told him he cannot be sent to Manus, and he cannot be sent to Syria.

“It is sheer bloody-mindedness by the Australian government that has kept these people in detention.

“It is time to free all the Manus refugees, in PNG and Australia, and to provide the protection they need in the Australian community.”

Next article – Fidel Castro, an inspiration for all!

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