The Manus Island detention centre is an Australian-run offshore processing base for individuals seeking asylum in Australia. Located in Northern Papua New Guinea, the detention centre was created in response to growing numbers of refugee claimants attempting to enter Australia without proper documentation.
In 2013, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea introduced the Regional Resettlement Arrangement — colloquially known as the PNG Solution. The PNG Solution prevented refugee claimants from gaining entry to Australia. Instead, the claimants would be re-settled in Papua New Guinea, provided they were, in fact, genuine refugees. Amnesty International “strongly condemn[ed]” the PNG Solution, and stated that the Australian “Prime Minster has shown his willingness to pay any financial costs to bypass humanitarian obligations.”
Beginning in February 2014, reports surfaced regarding the conditions endured by refugee claimants in the Manus Island detention centre. In response to claims of assault, self-harm, medical issues, and allegations of sexual abuse, combined with the murder of Iranian refugee, Reza Barati, human rights groups demanded an independent investigation by the Australia Federal Police (AFP). The AFP refused, claiming that the Royal Papua New Guinea Police was “the most appropriate law enforcement organisation to investigate the allegation.”
Currently, tensions in the Manus Island detention centre have escalated. Protesting asylum-seekers have barricaded the detention centre, preventing staff from entering. As many as 700 detainees are on a hunger strike, and several individuals have sewn their lips shut.
The refugee claimants are protesting the possibility of being re-located in Papua New Guinea, and claim that their lives would be in danger.
The situation continues to evolve. For a current news release, see here.