New Zealand unlikely to offer PNG resettlement for detainees
New Zealand unlikely to offer PNG resettlement for Manus detainees.
The New Zealand Prime Minister says he's unlikely to approach Papua New Guinea with an offer to resettle asylum seekers detained on Manus Island.
PNG says it will close Australia's offshore processing facility on Manus after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the detention of asylum seekers there is illegal.
Ben Robinson reports.
The future of about 850 asylum seekers detained on Manus Island remains unclear pending meetings this week between Australia and PNG. Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the asylum seekers will not go to Australia under any circumstance.An offer from New Zealand to resettle 150 detainees each year was rebuffed by Australia, but the John Key says the offer still stands.
JOHN KEY: It's on a year by year basis and I think this year they have rejected the idea of invoking that offer. In principle if they meet the criteria of being refugees it's not impossible if Australia came to us but they haven't made any approaches and I thought I saw something in the media from Malcolm Turnbull saying that wasn't an option they were exploring.
QUESTION: But could New Zealand extend its offer to Papua New Guinea instead?
JOHN KEY: I don't think that would be our intention to do that. I think we'll continue to work through the UNHCR programme.
In a statement, the office of the United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra said it can't direct New Zealand to resettle Manus Island detainees.
STATEMENT: UNHCR does not prescribe suitable locations but rather suitable conditions for refugees and asylum-seekers.
New Zealand, as a long-standing resettlement country and one which has excellent settlement services, would clearly meet the relevant standards. Australia previously allowed New Zealand to resettle 150 asylum seekers who were rescued at sea in 2001 by the Norwegian freighter the Tampa. The vice president of New Zealand's Refugee Council, Colin Henry, says New Zealand has the capacity to take more.
COLIN HENRY: But at the same time we really ought not to be back-stopping Australia on their obligations. I think what New zealand ought to do is bring diplomatic pressure to bare on Australia to fulfil its own obligations and process the people there. Yes we can volunteer to be part of the Pacific solution and say fine we will take a certain component of them as we did at the time of the Tampa. But that really ought not to be regarded as an obligation on the part of New Zealand.
The leader of New Zealand's opposition Labour party Andrew Little says New Zealand should make further efforts to resettle asylum seekers from Manus Island.
ANDREW LITTLE: If you go back to the Tampa refugees we were able to do something then and I'd be surprised if we can't do something with those refugees now who are in a state of limbo. With Australia looking like they're totally reluctant to do anything it would be good to see our government at least making the effort. I'm not sufficiently across the international legal framework that the arrangement between Australia and PNG is set up under, but at the very least as a country that has a good reputation world-wide for doing the right thing on humanitarian reasons we should at least be making an effort in this case.
Andrew Little says he agrees with John Key that the law should not be changed to prevent asylum seekers granted New Zealand citizenship from accessing Australia.
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