PNG tells Australia not to close detention centre

10:11 pm on 25 August 2017

Papua New Guinea has told Australia it cannot close the Manus Island detention centre at the end of October and leave asylum seekers in PNG.

Protest action at the Manus Island detention centre, 25-8-17.

Protest action at the Manus Island detention centre, 25-8-17. Photo: supplied

The ABC reported that PNG's attorney-general Davis Steven summoned Australia's High Commissioner today and told him the date set for the centre's closure, October the 31st, had not been agreed to by PNG.

Mr Steven said his government was not going to allow Australia to withdraw from Manus Island and leave behind detainees for PNG to care for.

He said Australia had not explained why it set the closure date, and that it was not saying what will happen to the men inside.

Mr Steven said the Australian government had been asked to wait until the matter was discussed by PNG's National Executive Council, before taking further action to close the centre.

About 900 men have been detained on Manus since 2013, after they arrived in Australia by boat seeking asylum.

About 700 have been found to be refugees through a highly criticised determination process that many detainees refused to take part in.

Those that abstained were afraid that having their applications for asylum processed in PNG would result in them being forced to settle in the developing country.

The PNG supreme court ruled their detention was unconstitutional in 2016 and ordered the center to be opened.

Almost all the detainees still live there.

Attempts to coerce the men into leaving the centre have escalated in recent weeks with phone, power and water services being cut.

Today, the men marked their 25th day of peaceful protest action against attempts to evict them.

Peaceful protest action at the Manus Island detention centre, 25-8-17.

Peaceful protest action at the Manus Island detention centre, 25-8-17. Photo: supplied

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