On 26 April, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal because it breaches the right to personal liberty in the PNG constitution.
Manus is a sparsely populated island off the coast of PNG, over 1000km from the nearest tip of Australia. It has been used by Australian governments as a detention centre for asylum seekers since 2012, and previously in 2001-2004. There are 850 asylum seekers there now.
The PNG Supreme Court has ordered the PNG and Australian Governments to end their detention of asylum seekers in PNG. But Australia’s Liberal government says it will just move the asylum-seekers to other “offshore” centres, and the Labor opposition basically concurs.
Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition says: “It is shocking that Opposition Immigration spokesperson, Richard Marles, is demanding any continuation of offshore detention in Papua New Guinea. The Labor Party should take the opportunity to drop its offshore policy...
“In the end, there is only one alternative – to close Manus and Nauru; and bring all the refugees and asylum seekers to Australia.
“The Manus detainees in detention in Australian mainland detention centres should be set free immediately”.