Papua New Guinea Immigration [official website] authorities stated on Thursday that the 898 refugees at the processing center on Manus Island are no longer detained because they are allowed to leave the facility. The announcement [The Guardian report] is in response to recent international calls for the country to reform its asylum policies. The authorities are allowing the detainees to travel to the mainland but they are still being housed at the processing center. However refugee advocates believe [Reuters report] the asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the facility as they wish without checking in and out and that the refugees have limited opportunity to access transportation.
Under the controversial policy, those who seek asylum in Australia arriving by boat are detained on the island nation of Nauru or on Manus Island. The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] last month that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island in northern Papua New Guinea is illegal. The court found that the detention center violates Article 42 of Papua New Guinea’s Constitution, which guarantees personal liberty. A group of more than 750 detainees held on Manus Island asked [JURIST report] the Australian High Court in early May to order their transfer to mainland Australia and block a transfer to the detention center in the island nation of Nauru.