Future uncertain for asylum seekers on Manus

2:34 pm on 28 April 2016

The future of 850 asylum seekers and refugees held illegally on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island is shrouded in uncertainty as Canberra scrambles to find a solution, according to an Australian refugee lawyer.

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Photo: AAP

PNG's Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled the detention of asylum seekers and refugees, who had been transferred by Australia to Manus, was illegal

In the wake of the ruling, PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill yesterday announced the centre would close.

Australia's immigration minister Peter Dutton said his government was looking for places to move the asylum seekers, including to another processing centre on Nauru, but insisted they would not go to Australia.

Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre executive director David Manne noted that past attempts by Australia to resettle asylum seekers in third countries had failed.

It was clear that Canberra's hardline immigration policy was unravelling, he said.

"The future remains completely shrouded in uncertainty," he said, "because the government doesn't have a proper plan in place for 850 men who are trapped in Manus Island, who the court has said must be freed."

Meanwhile, PNG's High Commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani, said urgent talks between the two governments would take place early next week.