The Prime Minister of PNG, Peter O’Neil today announced that the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island is to be closed. While not committing to a specific date, O’Neil said in a statement that “Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed.”
Human Rights Law Centre Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, who was on Manus Island last Friday, said the men in limbo on Manus must immediately be brought to Australia.
“It’s not about the facility, it’s about the innocent people being held inside it.”“These are innocent people in our care and they are suffering. We must urgently look at humane policy alternatives. First and foremost, we must bring them here.”
“The Manus detention centre has always been a dead end destined to produce nothing but human suffering. It can’t close soon enough,” said Mr Webb.
“I spent last week interviewing the men our government has locked up on Manus for the last three years. I met some truly amazing people – a guy who speaks seven languages, one man who used to work for the UN, another man who didn’t speak a word of English when we first locked him up but who has now written a book. They are men of different ages, from different parts of the world and with different stories to tell. But what they all have in common is they are tired. After three years of fear, violence and limbo, they are completely exhausted. It’s time to bring them here.”
Mr Webb said the announcement is likely to be related to the PNG Supreme Court hearing listed for Monday 22 August, when the Court will hear submissions on how to enforce its earlier ruling that the Manus camp is illegal.
“Actions speak louder than words. If we don’t see a clear commitment to start bringing the innocent men on Manus back to Australia, this looks like lip service to the highest court in PNG ahead of an important court hearing.”
For all media queries, please contact:
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre: 0437 278 961
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519