PNG Catholic Church Prepared To Resettle Manus Refugees

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Church wants asylum seekers to be compensated for unjust treatment

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 4, 2016) – The Catholic Church is prepared to assist in the resettlement of any genuine refugee who wishes to remain in the country.

General-secretary of the Catholic Bishop Conference Fr Victor Roche said the church had always maintained that the detention of asylum seekers at the regional processing centre on Manus Island was unjust, inhumane and unlawful.

The Supreme Court declared last week that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus was unconstitutional.

"We want to see that the asylum seekers are justly compensated for the injustice they suffered," Roche said in a statement.

"These people have human rights and dignity that have to be considered, just as every other person living in PNG.

"While the PNG court decision can be heralded on one hand, we are mindful of the uncertainties still faced by the asylum seekers, especially when the Australian government maintains that these unfortunate and vulnerable people will not be taken into Australia.

"These people have human rights and dignity that have to be considered, just as every other person living in PNG."

Roche said the governments should respect and honour their obligations to uphold the laws and to accord full rights to people in accordance with the law.

He said that PNG and Australia were signatories to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951.

"It was the Australian government in a deal with the PNG Government which brought the asylum seekers to Manus processing centre, more aptly described as a detention centre.

"It is our prayer and hope that the Australian government, with the help of the PNG Government, will find a compassionate and humanitarian way to respond to the plight of those who find themselves in this situation.

"We believe the PNG court decision can also impact on the people detained on Nauru.

"Nauru has a similar constitution as PNG with the same human rights provisions contained in its constitution."

"It is incumbent therefore for Australia to engage in a comprehensive review of its border protection policy on refugees and asylum seekers."

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