16 Jun 2011

Port Moresby governor says no culture of detention in PNG

2:08 pm on 16 June 2011

The governor of Papua New Guinea's National Capital District says his country doesn't have a culture of detaining asylum seekers.

Powes Parkop's comment comes as the Australian government continues to discuss the merits of re-opening its refugee processing centre on PNG's Manus Island, a facility it closed after three years of use early last decade.

A former PNG prime minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, says re-opening the Manus centre would enhance the country's international reputation because it would be seen to be fulfilling its obligations under the UN convention on refugees.

But Mr Parkop says it's illegal to detain people without charge.

"By way of explanation, the West Papuan refugees who come to PNG, we don't hold them in detention. Yes we put them in refugee camps but the camps are open space. They don't have guards, they're not locked up in the night, they fend for themselves, they go and do gardening, fishing, they go to school, you know they try to build their life."

The NCD governor, Powes Parkop.