22 Aug 2011

Australian Refugee Council calls detention centre reopening in PNG inhumane

3:40 pm on 22 August 2011

The Refugee Council of Australia has criticised the Australian government's signing of a memorandum of understanding to re-open an asylum seeker detention camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Manus Island was used by Australia from 2001 to 2004 as part of the Howard government's so-called Pacific Solution, which aimed to have asylum seekers wanting to enter Australia assessed for refugee status on foreign soil.

The Council's spokesperson, Sophie Peer, says its primary concern is for the safety, and Australia's international obligations to, the individuals who'll be kept there.

"Yet again here is Australia sending its responsibilities offshore, paying a much poorer neighbour country to take on our responsibilities and our obligations. Australia can and should be processing asylum seekers on our mainland and giving protection to those who are refugees. It's not a huge number that we get and we can well do it. This is just an inhumane policy that has a damaging effect all round."

The spokesperson for the Refugee Council of Australia, Sophie Peer.

The new centre is expected to be a permanent facility capable of accommodating 400-600 people.