PNG demands clarity from Australia ahead of Manus centre closure


Papua New Guinea says a number of important issues need to be addressed as the Manus Island detention centre closes on Tuesday.

Papua New Guinea is demanding Australia clarifies what it will do with hundreds of men who will be left in limbo when the Manus Island detention centre closes on Tuesday.

PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas says Australia is responsible for people found not to be refugees, and refugees who are refusing to settle on Manus Island.

"There has to be a clear understanding of what Australia will continue to do and support PNG in the next few months to deal with the remaining caseload," Mr Thomas said in a statement.

"There must be a review of the arrangement to clarify these international obligations and officials will be discussing the details of (a) revised agreement in the next few days."

Australia was responsible for finding third country resettlement options for refugees and working with respective governments of "non-refugees" to facilitate their returns.

Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said Australia was working on solutions, pointing to a number of negotiations underway as well as the US resettlement deal.

"We are working with PNG to ensure that those who are found to be refugees can be resettled either in PNG or in other countries," Ms Bishop told reporters in Perth.

"Those who have found not to be refugees should go home. They've been found by the UNHCR not to be owed protection. So they should return to their homes."

A brief history of offshore processing
A brief history of offshore processing

Mr Thomas is also concerned about human rights issues raised by the United Nations and others on the reduction of health services for detainees on Manus Island.

"I call on Australia to maintain the necessary health and mental health services, preferably by a local health service provider, or maintain the current arrangement between International Health and Medical Services and Pacific International Hospital," he said.

In a separate statement, Mr Thomas flagged concerns about reported plans by security contractor Paladin Solutions to fly in Fijian workers to operate facilities for refugees and asylum seekers once the centre closes.

"This arrangement is done without any consultation with the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority to consider concerns of local security service providers and the Manus Provincial Government," he said.

Mr Thomas says PNG immigration officials last week refused entry to 31 Paladin Solutions employees who arrived in the country without visas to travel and work on Manus Island.

The History of Manus Island Detention Centre

2001: Offshore immigration detention centre established on Manus Island as part of the Howard government's Pacific Solution.

2008: Rudd government closes Manus and Nauru detention centres.

November 2012: Gillard government reopens Manus and Nauru centres following a surge in asylum seeker boat arrivals.

July 2013: Rudd government declares Australia will never again accept asylum seekers arriving via boat, sending them instead to PNG for processing and possible resettlement.

February 2014: Protests from asylum seekers lead to violent riots at Manus centre, with PNG police and locals reportedly attacking detainees, with Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati killed and 62 asylum seekers injured.

September 2014 : Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei, 24, dies in a Brisbane hospital after a cut to his foot becomes infected at Manus and he does not receive medical attention in time.

January 2015: 300 asylum seekers on Manus embark on hunger strikes and self-mutilation.

July 2015: Media reports a spate of violent crimes at Manus, including the alleged murder of a centre security guard, a machete attack and a gang rape by Australian guards.

February 2016: A class action involving 600 asylum seekers is launched in PNG's Supreme Court to challenge the legality of the Manus centre.

April 2016: PNG Supreme Court finds Manus centre to be illegal and unconstitutional, with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill confirming the detention centre will be shut down.

December 2016: Sudanese refugee Faysal Ishal Ahmed dies after suffering months of blackouts, falls and seizures.

April 2017: Nine people injured during a Good Friday shooting, after PNG military personnel opened fire on the Manus Island centre

May 2017: Papua New Guinea immigration officials confirm the centre will close on October 31.

June 2017: The Australian government settles a class action, paying $70 million to more than 2000 detainees, but denies any liability.

August 2017: Iranian asylum seeker Hamed Shamshiripour takes his own life.

September 2017: Twenty-five men leave PNG for the United States under a refugee resettlement deal, with more expected to follow.

October 2017: A Sri Lankan refugee dies in Lorengau hospital.

October 2017: More than 600 detainees refuse to leave the Manus Island offshore detention centre, fearing for their safety in Lorengau.

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