Refugees on Manus get ICC response

7:43 am on 15 September 2016

Refugees on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island have received a response to their letter to the International Criminal Court in July.

Protest by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Protest by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island. Photo: Supplied

The letter, signed by over five hundred of the asylum seekers and refugees, asked the ICC to investigate alleged torture by the Australian Government at the Manus regional processing centre.

In April, PNG's Supreme Court ruled that the roughly 900 men held for offshore processing on Manus were detained illegally after being forcibly transferred there by Australia in the past three years.

Despite the ruling the governments of PNG and Australia are yet to reach a plan or resettlement outcome for those on Manus in order to close the offshore centre.

Meanwhile, reports from some of those held on Manus still depict a system of physical and psychological ill-treatment among overcrowded compounds or dormitories.

The men had fled from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Myanmar.

In their letter, they urged the ICC to help take any legal action to release the men from "this torturing limbo", a reference to the ongoing mental impact on them due to the uncertainty of their future under Australia's offshore processing system.

"The conditions that is happening in here, are exactly crime against humanity," read the letter. "As you know the article 7 of International Criminal Court lists 16 individual crimes . You know how many of them were and are happening in here."

In its response to the refugees letter, the ICC said the court had limited jurisdiction and can only hear cases under certain conditions.

However it has said that the correspondents should review the guidelines around the ICC's jurisdiction and its Rome Statute, and if their case meets the conditions, they should submit it.

A Kurdish Iranian refugee on Manus, Behrouz Boochani, said he was convinced there was enough evidence to make a challenge against the Australian government for breaking international law by detaining the men.

He added that despite April's PNG court ruling, the men on Manus don't have access to a court in PNG or Australia and that international courts offer the only way for the refugees to seek justice.

Behrouz Boochani said the refugees would continue to "fight the system of torture" he and the others held on Manus have been subjected to.

Residents of the Manus Island processing centre queue for food.

Residents of the Manus Island processing centre queue for food. Photo: Behrouz Boochani