3 Oct 2002

PNG to give Australia use of Manus Island detention for another 12 months

6:25 pm on 3 October 2002

The Papua New Guinea government has given Australia another 12 months to process asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre.

The National newspaper says a memorandum of understanding allowing Australia to use the military base to assess the asylum seekers rights to refugee status was to expire on October 11th.

But the PNG Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, has revealed that an extension has been given, after an approach by the Australian High Commissioner.

The new Government has previously expressed its opposition to Australia processing asylum seekers on its soil.

Sir Rabbie's confirmation follows reports of asylum seekers breaking out of the Manus processing centre last weekend in protest over what they felt was their prolonged detainment.

Of the 356 detainees who have been housed at the camp over the past year, nine returned voluntarily to their own countries, twelve were relocated to Nauru and a total of 147 were accepted by New Zealand and Australia.

There are now 97 asylum seekers on Manus.