Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum encouraged by PNG Supreme Court stance



In response to the news that Manus Island detention centre will close following the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court’s ruling that Australia’s detention of people seeking asylum there is illegal, the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) has called on the Federal Government to commit to processing the applications of the 850 men currently on Manus Island here in Australia.

“CAPSA believes that people who seek asylum should live in the Australian community with the financial burden of their support accepted by the Government, and that any period of arbitrary or indefinite detention is unacceptable,” says CAPSA Spokesperson Julie Edwards.

“This week’s decision by Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court is a landmark ruling that confirms what many Australians have already known – that the indefinite detention of vulnerable people in an unsafe and volatile environment is unlawful.”

CAPSA’s published list of principles includes that:

  • Arbitrary or indefinite detention at any stage of the refugee determination process is unacceptable and that
  • People who come to Australia to seek protection should not be transferred from Australian territory to other nations for processing or protection without a firm regional agreement upholding human rights.


“The decision by the Supreme Court provides our Government with an opportunity to act in a just and humane manner. We believe that all people seeking asylum should have their claims processed in a timely manner while they remain in Australia, and be given the opportunity to resettle in Australia if their claims are found to be genuine,” says Ms Edwards.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that these people seeking asylum are often fleeing trauma and persecution in their home countries, and simply want a better life and a chance to contribute to Australian society.”

Andrew Hamilton SJ writes that the Supreme Court’s ruling is shaming to Australians.

“The court found that the detention on Manus Island was not justifiable in a society that respects human rights. It is hard to imagine a decision more shaming for Australians, who would generally assume unthinkingly that Australia is a much more democratic society than Papua New Guinea,” he writes.

CAPSA is a national initiative to influence hearts and minds in the Catholic community towards a more just, compassionate and humane welcome of people seeking asylum.

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