Respect PNG law, close the camps, bring them here

National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev Elenie Poulos, has called for the immediate transfer of all asylum seekers on Manus Island to Australia.

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the detention of 850 asylum seekers on Manus Island breaches the detainees’ right to personal liberty under the PNG Constitution.

Elenie is urging the Australian Government to take the opportunity to end its “brutal and immoral” policy of offshore detention.

“Barely a week goes by without new evidence of the damage we are doing to people.”

“The tragic and unnecessary death of Hamid Khazaei, highlighted on ABC TV’s Four Corners program this week; desperate detainees on Nauru attempting suicide; riots, physical and sexual assaults – report after report reinforces the devastating effect of these policies on people’s lives.”

“The latest news from PNG confirms that this policy is not only unjust and inhumane but unsustainable. The centres, on both Manus and Nauru, must be closed. People must be brought here to Australia to have their protection claims processed while they live in the community,” said Elenie.

The Uniting Church in Australia has been calling for the closure of Australian immigration detention facilities on Nauru and Manus Island since their establishment.

The Church’s 14th Assembly last year adopted a new policy on asylum seekers and refugees, Shelter from the Storm, which outlines an alternative approach to offshore detention.

“Australia has to work more constructively with countries in our region to develop a genuine multilateral protection solution,” said Elenie.

“We must invest more resources in our work with the UNHCR and regional partners like Indonesia, so that we can achieve a shared regional solution that protects asylum seekers and refugees.”

“The PNG Supreme Court decision is a significant opportunity for Australia to draw a line under our national shame and move forward towards a more compassionate framework to deal with the global issue of the movement of people.”

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