Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced [press release] Wednesday that the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea plan to close the controversial Manus Island detention center. Since 2012 Australia has sent asylum seekers to offshore detention centers where they have been subjected to inhumane treatment. Human rights groups have brought light to the physical and sexual abuse [Reuters report] faced by these individuals which has created pressure for reform. Although there has been an agreement to close the center, Australia has stated they refuse to accept the detainees held there. There is no time frame on the process which has led to skepticism.
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] in April 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.