1 Oct 2013

Australia accused of breaking its laws in deporting Papuans

4:14 pm on 1 October 2013

The Refugee Action Coalition says the Australian government has acted unlawfully in transferring seven West Papuans, who had fled Indonesia and sought asylum in Queensland, to Papua New Guinea.

Its spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, says the government claimed it acted in line with a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding, which allows Australia to return asylum seekers to PNG if they have come through PNG.

But Mr Rintoul says the MOU requires those people to have been in PNG for seven days or more, and the West Papuans were there for just two.

He says the MOU also requires those who are returned to have their refugee processing done in PNG - but there are questions as to whether PNG has the intent or ability to do this.

"We have seen them act unlawfully. They've certainly acted unethically. While that Memorandum of Understanding is there, there's no reason that the government needs to rely on that, it knows the situation of West Papuans and it should be willing to actually process them here. They know the people who are coming here are deserving of protection and yet they've sent them back to Papua New Guinea."

The Refugee Coalition Action spokesperson, Ian Rintoul.