RISE:Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees, welcomes the PNG court decision declaring that the Manus Island detention camp run by the Australian government is illegal. However, Australia has a history of dirty politics and disregarding pro-refugee laws. We are cautious regarding tactics the Australian government and their proxies within the PNG government are likely to use to continue the illegal abuse of refugees and asylum seekers abducted and trafficked from Australia to PNG by the Australian border force and held hostage on this island.

Since the Manus Island and Nauru detention camps were re-established by the Gillard government in 2012, men, women and children arriving by boat to Australia to seek asylum have been trafficked to these Pacific Islands. There have been two detainee deaths in Manus Island and numerous reports of cruel and degrading treatment, including rape and sexual abuse of refugees and asylum seekers on both islands.

We should not forget that Australia has been found guilty of 150 violations of international law over the indefinite detention of 46 refugees within its own borders, but there has been no effort by the government to make systemic changes to ensure such violations do not occur again and hold accountable those responsible for these violations. Is the PNG court decision, supporting the human rights of refugees, another decision that the Australian government will undermine?

During the last few weeks, some of the Manus Island detainees were given refugee status and separated from “rejected” asylum seekers into a pre-release camp. However, this process is clearly arbitrary when one considers that refugee status was granted to Kurdish Journalist and Manus detainee Behrouz Bouchani who refused to give his file for processing in PNG as he was trafficked like all the other detainees, from Australia to PNG, against his will and did not choose to be resettled in PNG. Mr. Bouchani rightfully refuses to move into the “pre-release” camp. We are also fearful of the serious risk of forced deportations to danger of asylum seekers arbitrarily “rejected” to clear the camp and shut it down.

RISE calls on Australia and other state parties who have been involved in the abduction and trafficking of asylum seekers and refugees to PNG and Nauru, to follow the rule of law and help bring them all back to Australia, release them into the community and process their claims humanely and fairly.

RISE:Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees Team
(28/04/2016)


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