In response to the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court’s ruling that Australia’s detention of people seeking asylum on Manus Island is illegal, Jesuit Social Services has called on the Federal Government to commit to processing the applications of approximately 850 people currently on Manus Island here in Australia.

“Yesterday’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,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.

In delivering its verdict, the Supreme Court announced that the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments must take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of people seeking asylum on Manus Island.

Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has declared no people seeking asylum currently detained on Manus Island will be resettled in Australia.

“Australia’s policies regarding people seeking asylum have already been condemned internationally, including at a UN Human Rights Council review in 2015,” says Ms Edwards.

“The fact our Federal Government is not willing to commit to resettling these people in Australia goes against the value of a fair go for all people, which we hold dearly.

“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.

“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.”

Jesuit Social Services provides a leadership role in the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA), an initiative that aims to influence hearts and minds across Australia in support of humane and just reform.

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.

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