18 August, 2016 

The St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia is calling for the immediate transfer of asylum seekers at both Manus Island and Nauru to Australia for the processing of their claims.

Following revelations of mistreatment and abuse at Nauru, and confirmation that the Manus Island Detention Centre will be closed, the Society wants the Federal Government to take responsibility for all 1300 detainees at both offshore processing centres.  

“The Immigration Minister has asserted that responsibility for asylum seekers in offshore locations rests solely with the host countries of PNG and Nauru. This, however, is not consistent with international law and the international human rights conventions to which Australia is a party,” the Society’s National Council Chief Executive Dr John Falzon said. 

Around 540 asylum seekers on Manus Island have had their claims assessed since the detention centre was built. Of those, 98 per cent have been found to be genuine refugees.

“In the three years that asylum seekers have been housed at the Manus Island Detention Centre, less than 20 have lived freely in the PNG community,” Dr Falzon said.

“Half of those have actually tried to come back and readmit themselves into the facility.

“It is not realistic to expect people who are found to be genuine refugees to resettle there.”

Dr Falzon called on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to be mindful of the conditions asylum seekers had fled from, including war zones and political persecution.

“Rather than showing compassion and respect, we have left them in limbo and deprived them of hope.

“People seeking refuge should not be vilified. The rhetoric that dehumanises these people must stop.

“They have a legitimate right to live without fear.

“It is time the Australian government abandoned the practice of offshore punishment and honoured its international obligations to people seeking a safe place to call home.”

Media Contact: Belinda Cranston 0400 845 492 or media@svdp.org.au