PNG to consider resettlement of confirmed refugees
PNG's government is considering where to resettle the first bundle of asylum seekers deemed to be refugees in its detention centre on Manus Island.
The Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, says the onus will be on Australia to resettle refugees processed on Manus Island if they choose not to live in PNG.
Australia's Immigratrion Minister Scott Morrison says the first determinations on refugee status have been made for asylum seekers held on Manus.
Eleven have had their refugee claims recognised while 15 have been refused.
It is yet to be confirmed where the refugees will be settled or if those rejected will appeal the decision.
Rimbink Pato told Johnny Blades that the assessment of resettlement is likely to take place in July.
RIMBINK PATO: The report of the expert panel who have been looking at the policy framework within which those determinations will take place has already come in to the PNG government and I'll be taking that to the cabinet possibly next week. We are studying it as we speak. And thereafter the positives and the negatives... some determinations have been made and we're doing them at a rate of two a day, which is ten a week. It's been an ongonig exercise pending the policy framework within which I will make the final decisions. So we're awaiting the policy. There's been a whole series of assessments that have been made. So it could be ten, it could be more. But clearly some decisions will be made come July, and the decision will be made where to resettle them in the context of the policy framework. The policy framework will determine what kind of people we will settle for what purposes, at which locations in PNG, that kind of thing.
JOHNNY BLADES: So do you imagine some will be going offshore to another country?
RP: Not at this stage. The idea is those who are determined as genuine refugees, they should settle in Papua New Guinea. But obviously, if it is their decision not to settle in PNG, then we don't have a choice but we will have to liaise with the Australian government as to where in which other country they should resettle. Probably that's a matter for the UN systems.
JB: Scott Morrison had indicated earlier that they would all be resettled in PNG and then subsequently you'd sort of distanced PNG a little bit from that.
RP: What I did say was that we will be... it's our idea to settle them here but we will have to be acting in accordance with our policy which the cabinet will make a decision. And once the decision comes down, we will try to settle them. Even those that are determined as genuine refugees - and therefore we intend to settle them - if they should decide that they don't want to settle in Papua New Guinea then that will be a matter for the Australian government.
JB: So it's at that point that the Australian authorities take over, is it?
RP: Yes. Because the whole exercise is at the cost and expense of the Australian government because what we're doing is giving a helping hand to Australia on this occasion even though overall it's our position to exercise leadership on what's clearly a regional issue on the question of human trafficking, people smuggling and related transnational crimes.
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