Asylum Seekers Given 'Negative' Status Could Face Indefinite Detention In PNG

200 individuals determined not to be refugees are to be moved into an alternative place of detention away from the regional processing center, 100 have agreed to voluntarily go back to their countries of origin

By Eric Tlozek

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, September 15, 2017) – Asylum seekers who have spent four years on Manus Island are now facing an indefinite stay in another detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

The Federal Government has said the men whose asylum claims have been rejected are likely to be sent to another detention centre when the Manus Island facility closes.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told parliament he has had discussions with the PNG Government about putting the men in another detention centre.

"Which might include, for example, those people, who total about 200, who have been found not to be refugees are to be moved into an alternative place of detention away from the regional processing centre, given that they have no lawful claim to be in PNG," he said.

Mr Dutton said about half of those men have agreed to voluntarily go back to their countries of origin, leaving 100 men in PNG.

Many of them cannot be deported, because their countries of citizenship will not accept their forced return.

They are likely to end up in a $20 million detention centre the Australian Government is building on the outskirts of Port Moresby.

Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi, who does not want his full name published, is one of the men expecting to be sent there.

"Detention is detention. We don't care whether the colour is different or the height of the fences," he said.

"They are still working to torture us more and they don't want to stop torturing innocent people."

Mehdi and a number of other men withdrew their claims for asylum after Iranian detainee Reza Barati was killed during a 2014 riot at the Manus Island detention centre.

The men refused to participate in the refugee determination process and have been given a "negative" refugee status, which means they must leave PNG.

But Mehdi said the threat of further detention will not make the men go back to their countries.

"It's just a sucker punch," he said.

"After four years, under torture and in illegal detention, it doesn't matter, four more years or 40 more years, no problem."

'I just want to go to a third country'
Other men with a "negative" status, like Iranian asylum seeker Naser Jafarzadeh, want the chance to apply for asylum in a different country.

"I just want to go to a third country, safe and reassured that the country is safe," he said.

"I can seek asylum and I can prove my case and why I left my country.

"I know I am a refugee but I don't want to be a refugee here and in Australia." 

There are still another 600 men on Manus who have been found to be refugees and might be sent to the United States.

In the meantime, they are being told to move to another accommodation complex on Manus Island so the Australian and PNG Government can continue the process of shutting down the Manus detention centre.

Radio Australia
Copyright © 2017 Radio Australia. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment