Posted By Staff Reporter
Papua New Guinea will resettle asylum seekers or transferees found to be refugees after processing them on Manus Island detention centre.
No one is to be resettled in Australia.
This was among other outcomes noted at a joint ministerial forum between Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato and Australia's Minister for Immigration and Boarder Protection Scott Morrison yesterday (Wednesday 2nd April) in Port Moresby.
It was confirmed at this forum that the PNG Government has approved for a refugee visa for those transferees determined to be refugees.
The refugee visa provides for employment rights for refugees and freedom of movement. Transferees that are processed and determined to be refugees will be settled in PNG under this visa arrangement.
Those others found not to be refugees will be held in detention on Manus pending removal to their home country or another country where they have a right of entry and not to Australia.
The process of Refugee Status Determination is well advanced, with two-thirds of transferees having had initial interviews at the Regional Processing Centre.
The development of a review process for those initially assessed not to be refugees is underway and due for completion this month.
Under the arrangement, Australia will meet the costs relating to the settlement of refugees in PNG and would await the recommendations of the Settlement Expert Panel, which will influence the level of assistance required.
It is anticipated that the first refugees could be resettled in June, this year. The Expert Panel on Settlement has convened on the first of this month and scheduled to report back to the government at the end of this month on recommendations on implementing refugee resettlement.
The Ministers welcomed the decision by the PNG Cabinet that allows the first tranche of initial assessments to be delivered to transferees within a month.
Other outcomes noted at the forum include, improvements to infrastructure facilities at the Manus Regional Processing Centres continues at pace, the transition of garrison and support services to Transfield Services Ltd from G4S is now complete, and Ministers noted the transition process had proceeded smoothly.
Ministers also affirmed the urgency and need to complete the comprehensive investigations underway into the events that took place at Manus Island on 16th -18th February.
The Australian Government also made a commitment to continue to provide all assistance necessary, if requested by PNG authorities to finalise their official police investigation into the incident, including providing legal assistance for witnesses to alleged criminal acts.
The Ministers also agreed to facilitate interviews of persons of interest who are no longer in PNG. They also agreed that all relevant information from the independent administrative reviews would be handed over to the police investigation to enable swift prosecutions. The outcomes of the investigations will inform a coronial inquiry in PNG and both Governments will expedite the implementation of recommendations arising from the investigations.
Regarding the assistance package, Ministers received an update on the good progress of implementation of the Joint Understanding and additional assistance package for Manus with the additional $26m and the $420m broader Australian development assistance package under the Joint Understanding on Further Bilateral Cooperation on Health, Education and Law and Order.
Ministers also noted the recent successful visit to Papua New Guinea by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who also announced Australia’s commitment to support Papua New Guinea’s preparations to host the APEC Summit in 2018, and Australia’s willingness to increase the Australian police presence in Papua New Guinea.
The next joint ministerial forum is scheduled for the 9th of May.
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