Refugee Action Coalition


Meetings in the Manus Island detention centre compounds this morning
(Tuesday 29 March) have outlined a series of moves by Australian and
PNG immigration attempting to resolve detention and resettlement issue
before the Supreme Court challenge to the Manus Island detention
centre, scheduled for the end of April.

Asylum seekers and refugees were told (i) that all refugee processed
will end by 31 March; (ii) those with negative determinations will
their appeal resolved by 31 June; (iii) from 6 April, those found to
be refugees will be separated from those who have negative
determinations. Those found to be refugees will be housed in Delta and
Oscar, while found not to be refugee will be housed in Mike and
Foxtrot compounds. People will be moved forcibly after the 6 April if
necessary, but any person who moved earlier will receive 50 points
that can be used at the detention centre canteen. Anyone who refuses
to move will have their points cut; meaning they will no longer have
access to the canteen for supplies or phone cards.

It is rumoured that extra guards have been flown from Australia, but
that cannot be confirmed.

Those who have been found to be refugees have also been threatened
that they have to accept resettlement in PNG or they will be forcibly
removed from PNG; something the government is not able to legally
carry out.

It is unclear what the announcement means for the 60-odd people who
have refused to accept processing in PNG in protest at being forcibly
transported to Manus Island from Australia, where they did ask for
asylum on arrival.

“There is every sign that the PNG Immigration and the Australian
immigration are panicked at the possibility that they will lose the
Supreme Court challenge to Manus Island detention that is scheduled to
start in late April,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee
Action Coalition.

“Immigration routinely makes threats and restricts rights in the
effort to force people to leave the detention centre or return to
their home countries. The cash offer to ‘voluntarily’ return home has
recently been increased to $10,000 but no-one has accepted it.”

Of the hundreds who have been found to be refugees, only around 60
have been willing to move out of the centre to the so-called transit
accommodation at East Lorengau on Manus Island.

One Manus refugee told the Refugee Action Coalition, “ The message was
clear for us – whether you are a refugee or not, they want to clear
the detention centre. But there is no safety in PNG.”

“It is always disappointing to see the immigration department
inflicting further punishment on asylum seekers and refugees rather
than face up to the failure of the offshore detention regime,” said
Rintoul, “They are desperate to avoid the consequences of a successful
court challenge which could find that the Manus detention centre has
never been constitutional and that human rights of asylum seekers have
been breached from day one.”

The announcement has increased tensions at the detention centre. A
majority have already decided they will not cooperate with any attempt
to force them to move compounds,

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713