PNG bishops call for Manus centre closure

Shrine to Iranian

Australia’s Papua New Guinea based Manus Island Refugee processing centre should be closed down, says the Pacific Island nation’s peak Catholic body in an appeal to the Australian government, reports Echo Netdaily.

PNG’s Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) said it was appalled to hear of the recent disturbance at the centre, resulting in death and injury. It was also concerned over the Australian government’s ‘rhetoric of a righteous campaign’ against people smuggling at the expense of PNG’s reputation, the CBC said in a statement.

'We were concerned that the rhetoric of a righteous campaign against people smugglers actually seemed to be more a question of political convenience,’ the Church assembly said.

‘Detaining people against their will in PNG, even if it works as a deterrent, is not a just solution worthy of a great nation otherwise proud of its human rights record. It clearly places an intolerable strain on the capacity of PNG to manage and might lead to even more deaths, injury and trauma. Close the centre and manage the problem in Australia.’

A riot at the centre on February 17 left Iranian man Reza Berati dead and 62 other asylum seekers injured.

After meeting with the PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and Attorney-General Kerenga Kua over the weekend, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced both countries had agreed to monthly ministerial forums on resettlement arrangements, aimed at denying asylum seekers entry into Australia.

The Abbott government last week announced details of an independent review into the violence at the PNG detention centre, to be headed by the former secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Robert Cornall.

Photo: A woman lights a candle in a shrine for Reza Berati during a vigil in support of asylum seekers in Brisbane last month

FULL STORY Catholic bishops call for Manus closure (Echo Netdaily)

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