Manus Island: Papua New Guinea tells Australia to deal with asylum seekers and refugees

Manus Island: Papua New Guinea tells Australia to deal with asylum seekers and refugees

Manus Island: Papua New Guinea tells Australia to deal with asylum seekers and refugees

Updated 30 October 2017, 10:55 AEDT

A day before the scheduled closure of the Manus Island detention centre, PNG says it is Australia's responsibility to deal with refugees who do not want to resettle in PNG.

The Papua New Guinea Government has said it is Australia's responsibility to deal with refugees who do not want to resettle in PNG.

Key points:

  • Minister says "PNG has no obligation" to deal with refugees who do not want to resettle in the country
  • He says PNG also has no responsibility for asylum seekers found not to be refugees
  • Overseas workers bound for new facilities have been blocked from entering PNG

The Manus Island detention centre is due to be shut down tomorrow but PNG's Immigration Minister said important issues still needed to be addressed.

In a statement, Petrus Thomas said PNG also had no obligation to deal with asylum seekers found not to be refugees.

"PNG has no obligation under the current arrangement to deal with these two cohorts and they remain the responsibility of Australia to pursue third-country options and liaise with respective governments of the non-refugees for their voluntary or involuntary return," he said.

"There has to be a clear understanding of what Australia will continue and support PNG in the next few months to deal with the remaining caseload.

"There must be a review of the arrangement to clarify these international obligations and officials will be discussing the details of a revised agreement in the next few days."

Mr Thomas was also concerned about what he called human rights issues raised by the United Nations and other organisations about the reduction of health services for the men at the detention centre when it is closed.

"I call on Australia to maintain the necessary health and mental health services, preferably by a local health service provider, or maintain the current arrangement between International Health and Medical Services and Pacific International Hospital," Mr Thomas said.

Workers blocked from entering PNG

In a separate statement, Mr Thomas announced officials prevented 31 employees of contractor Paladin Solutions from entering the country last week.

Paladin Solutions has the contract to operate the three facilities where refugees and asylum seekers are due to be sent when the Manus detention centre is shut down.

Mr Thomas said the employees arrived without visas to travel and work on Manus.

Media reports out of Fiji last week said Paladin had also hired 42 former police officers, soldiers and corrections officers to work on Manus.

"I have noted with concern the arrangement by the new contractor Paladin Solutions to bring 42 Fijians to work on Manus as security guards," Mr Thomas said.

"This arrangement is done without any consultation of the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority to consider the concerns of local security service providers and the Manus Provincial Government."

Mr Thomas said there were no foreign security personnel on Manus Island and the PNG Government did not want foreign workers taking jobs that could be done by locals.