In April 2016, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that the Australian government’s detention of refugees on Manus Island breached human rights, and was therefore illegal.
In March the court’s chief justice declared the detention centre ‘closed’, despite 866 men still being held there. The detention centre has merely been redesignated as a “naval base”, and it is still in operation.
Fearing the detention centre could permanently close, the Australian government has attempted to clear refugees from the facility. Disgracefully, the government has offered people up to $25,000 to return to the dangerous situations they are trying to escape from.
Last year Australia also signed an agreement with the United States while Obama was still in office. The deal would supposedly resettle many refugees currently being held on Manus Island and Nauru.
Since Trump’s election however it appears increasingly unlikely that the deal will be upheld. Trump has decried the agreement as being “the worst deal ever” and claimed that the agreement would send “the next Boston bombers” to the US.
The conditions in the detention centres on Manus and Nauru are appalling. Despite this the cost of keeping each refugee in these hell holes exceeds $570,000 per year! Clearly it would be much cheaper to allow those seeking asylum to settle in the community. It would also be much more humane.
Australia has been widely condemned for the inhumane treatment of refugees in offshore detention centres. Many refugees in detention have endured violence and sexual abuse and many now suffer from mental health issues. The situation is unacceptable.
It is high time these camps were closed. The money wasted on maintaining the offshore detention regime would be much better spent on creating jobs, building homes and funding services for everyone including those who are fleeing war and persecution.
By Isobel Orford