20 Jan 2015

PNG minister wants asylum seekers to be helpful

4:38 pm on 20 January 2015

Papua New Guinea's Immigration Minister says his Chief Migration officer managed to negotiate the end of a blockade at Australia's Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre last night.

Protest at Australian-run asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island, PNG

Protest at Australian-run asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island, PNG Photo: supplied

Security staff moved on one of the compounds, Delta block, yesterday afternoon following a week of protests, with reports of some asylum seekers being taken to an isolation unit.

The minister, Rimbink Pato, says Mataio Rabura travelled to Manus yesterday and explained the resettlement process, promising those found to be refugees would be transferred to an open facility in East Lorengau.

Mr Pato says he blames refugee advocates in Australia for stoking the unrest, but has conceded that asylum seekers having to wait two years for their refugee determinations is too long.

However, he also says asylum seekers need to be more helpful.

"It's been delayed somewhat in the sense that those who have been identified as genuine refugees have not moved on to the new East Lorengau centre, so consequently all the other determination assessments are ready, but I have not been able to make any further determinations [until] we see a movement in the willingness of these asylum seekers to move."

An Australian refugee advocate says protests at the Manus detention centre are continuing.

The Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul says guards violently stormed the compound and detained a number of people.

"The security staff ended up forcibly breaking through the front gate and breaking through the barricade to enter delta compound and there is no doubt at all that physical force was used against people in the delta compound, people across the road in Oscar could see people being handcuffed and being dragged across the ground."

Ian Rintoul says 58 people are now in Lorengau prison, while some other detainees have been moved to an isolation unit within the detention centre.