17 Oct 2002

PNG and Australia extend Manus detention centre deal

6:12 pm on 17 October 2002

Papua New Guinea and Australia have formally agreed to extend a deal under which Australia is allowed to run a detention centre for asylum seekers on Manus island for another 12 months.

The extension was granted by the new PNG government last month and has now been sealed in a new memorandum of understanding.

The foreign minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, says the Manus centre may be used on condition that asylum seekers are treated more humanely.

It is not known what concerns the PNG government has had.

About one hundred people remain in the centre which under the deal may hold no more than 1-thousand asylum seekers at any one time.

There have been questions on whether it is constituitional for a foreign power to hold foreigners in detention on PNG soil.

Australia also has a deal with Nauru to process asylum seekers but that arrangement is open-ended.