17 August 2016
Australia has agreed to the closure of its detention centre on Manus Island following talks with Papua New Guinea.
Peter Dutton, Australian Immigration Minister, disclosed this on Wednesday after a meeting with Papua New Guinean (PNG), Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, in Port Moresby, on shutting down the detention centre.
He said that none of the asylum seekers from Manus Island would ever be settled in Australia.
Dutton said it had been the longstanding position of his government to work with PNG to close Manus and support the people as they transited into PNG or return to their country of origin.
O’Neill said that in April, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court had ruled that the detention centre was illegal.
He said that the court ruled that the Australian-run camp for asylum seekers and refugees breached the detainees’ right to personal liberty.
O’Neill added that the arrangement was outside the constitutional and legal framework in PNG.
“Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed,’’ he added.
The prime minister said that the process must be gradual and be carried out in a careful manner.
He said that the exercise must take into account the interests of the people of Papua New Guinea and the well-being of asylum seekers and refugees.
Reports said that 854 people are held in 17 camps on the island and no date for the closure was announced by the two leaders.