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PNG Prime Minister Says Manus Island Will Definitely Be Closed

Papua New Guinea's supreme court ruled that Australia's detention of asylum-seekers on the island was illegal.

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Updated on

The Papua New Guinea supreme court has ruled Australia's detention of asylum-seekers on Manus Island illegal on the basis that it breaches individuals human rights.

The ruling requires the Australian government to immediately close the detention centre, which currently holds 800 asylum-seekers.

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In a statement, O'Neill said Australia would now need to find "alternative arrangements" for the men at the centre.

"I have considered the ruling of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea and welcome this outcome.

"Respecting this ruling, Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian Government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum seekers currently held at the Regional Processing Centre."

On Tuesday, the five-judge bench ruled that the centre breached section 42 of the PNG constitution – that which protects the “liberty of a person”.

"Despite the opposition, the two governments proceeded to bring in the asylum seekers who consist of men, women and children, under Australian Federal Police escort and have them held at the MIPC (Manus Island Processing Centre) against their will," reads the judgment.

"The MIPC is enclosed with razor wire and manned by security officers to prevent the asylum seekers from leaving the centre."

The Australian government sends asylum-seekers who come to the country by boat to Manus Island and the small Pacific island of Nauru to process refugee claims. Only some are resettled.

Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, issued a strongly worded statement in the wake of the decision, saying "it changes nothing".

"No one who attempts to travel to Australia illegally by boat will settle in Australia," said Dutton.

"The agreement with Papua New Guinea to establish the Manus Island RPC was negotiated by the Labor government. Those in the Manus Island Regional processing Centre found to be refugees are able to resettle in Papua New Guinea."

But the Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul told BuzzFeed News that Tuesday's decision was "fantastic" and that the government should now process the mens' claims on Australian soil.

"It just confirms we've been saying about Manus Island," said Rintoul. "The ball is in the government's court to bring these people to Australia."

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on asylum-seekers, said the government has no choice but to bring the people to Australia.

"This is an important decision and it's now up to Malcolm Turnbull to end the farce and bring people to Australia for their claims to be assessed fairly," Hanson-Young told BuzzFeed News.

"There is no where else for people to go. They must come to Australia."

Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch described it as a "massive victory" for the men on a "remote island prison".

"This ruling is a massive victory for asylum seekers and refugees who remain locked up on a detention centre on a naval base in Manus, many for almost three years now," said Pearson in a statement.

"PNG's Supreme Court has recognized that detaining people who have committed no crime is wrong. For these men, their only "mistake" was to try to seek sanctuary in Australia – that doesn't deserve years in limbo locked up in a remote island prison."

#Auspol #PNG court rules #manus illegal. #asylumseekers #refugeeswelcome

Mark Di Stefano is a Media and Politics Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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