Manus closure agreed but no time frame – August 2016
Australia has agreed to close its controversial offshore detention centre for would-be asylum seekers on Manus Island, according to the Papua New Guinea Government.
The announcement came after 103 former and current staff members at Australia's offshore “processing centres” called for all refugees to be moved immediately, saying children's lives were being “destroyed.”
“Both PNG and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed,” PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said on Facebook.
The two Governments have yet to provide a timeframe for the Manus centre to be shut down.
PNG announced in April it would be shutting the Manus Island centre after its Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
The Manus Island centre has been housing asylum seekers since 2012.
In a statement detailing stories of abuse and neglect on Manus Island and Nauru, the current and former staff said the Government must bring the refugees and asylum seekers back to Australia.
But Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said refugees still in the Manus Island facility would never be settled in Australia.
“It has been the longstanding position of this Government to work with PNG to close Manus and support those people as they transition into PNG or return to their country of origin,” he said in a statement.
Mr Dutton has conceded that since the Manus Island centre opened fewer than 20 detainees had agreed to be resettled in PNG.
He said part of the reason was the activities of advocates and media outlets, such as the ABC and The Guardian encouraging asylum seekers not to resettle in PNG.
More than 2000 “incident reports” from Manus Island and Nauru were recently leaked to Guardian Australia. Mr Dutton said many of the leaked reports were not serious.
Mr Dutton said he wanted to see the men in the centre resettled in Papua New Guinea, and stressed they would not be relocated to Australia under any circumstances.