Catholic bishops call for Manus camp to be closed
PNG's Catholic Bishops Conference has reiterated its calls for the Manus Island detention centre to be closed.
Papua New Guinea's Catholic Bishops Conference is again appealing for the Australian and PNG governments to close the detention centre for asylum seekers on Manus Island.
The general secretary of the country's peak catholic body, Father Victor Roche, says he was appalled to hear about the clashes at the centre a fortnight ago that left 23-year-old Reza Berati dead and over 60 others injured.
He told Jamie Tahana that the Australia's refugee policies of detention in PNG are not worthy of a great nation proud of its human rights record, even as a deterrent.
VICTOR ROCHE: It's been a stand of the Catholic bishops always that asylum seekers who come to Papua New Guinea, they do not come to seek asylum here, they want to go to Australia. So, the stand of the Catholic bishops is that the process should be done in Australia and not in Papua New Guinea or Manus. So we would prefer - and we suggest - and we still stand by that statement that these asylum seekers the process should be done on the shores of Australia.
JAMIE TAHANA: Now you've announced this stance plenty of times before, are you reaffirming it today in the wake of the incidents of the past couple of weeks at the centre?
VR: That's right. We are not happy at the incident that one person - an Iranian - died in the centre and there were many people who were wounded in the detention there. We are not happy about it. So we are calling again to government's of Australia and Papua New Guinea to close it. Although the governments have agreed to keep it open and they have agreed to this agreement will be in effect but we still say that, if possible, it should be closed. Now, if it is not closed then the human rights of these people should be respected and as far as possible the centre should reach normal international asylum seeker standards.
JT: As an organisation you have quite a strong voice in Papua New Guinea, have you been in discussions with the PNG government over these concerns of yours?
VR: The foreign office minister, he has asked for consultations with the churches so we are very happy and are looking forward to that meeting and we have also asked for the Australian Government, but we will have dialogue with the other churches. So we are looking forward to this dialogue that will take place with the government.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: