Australia agrees to close immigration camp in PNG
AUSTRALIA has agreed to close an immigration camp housing asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea, the Pacific island nation said yesterday without giving any timeline.
Canberra’s policy of sending asylum seekers who arrive by boat to outposts on Papua New Guinea and Nauru was thrown into turmoil in April when a PNG court ordered the Manus Island centre closed.
“Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed,” PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in a statement following talks with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in Port Moresby.
“It is important that this process is not rushed but carried out in a careful manner.”
Canberra has been under pressure to shut the Australian-funded Manus facility following a PNG Supreme Court ruling declaring that it was unconstitutional and illegal.
It is also facing criticism about the plight of asylum seekers on the tiny Pacific state of Nauru, after thousands of leaked incident reports last week detailed allegations of widespread abuse and self-harm, including children wanting to kill themselves.
Mr Dutton stressed there would be no changes to Australia’s policy of refusing to resettle asylum seekers who arrive by boat, even if they are refugees.
“Our position is that no one from Manus Island Regional Processing Centre will ever be settled in Australia,” Mr Dutton said.
He added that Australia had recently returned home six Sri Lankans found on board a “people-smuggling boat” after intercepting it at sea.
He did say how they were returned to Sri Lanka. –