Monday, August 15, 2011

Parkop slams Manus plan

NCD Governor Powes Parkop has reiterated his opposition to the deal to send Australia's asylum seekers to Manus Island, saying it is illegal and unconstitutional, Radio Australia reported, The National reports.
Parkop, a human rights lawyer who is from Manus, told the Australian broadcaster last Friday that he would challenge the Manus plan in court.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill agreed last Thursday to re-open the Manus detention centre to accept asylum seekers from Australia.
This prompted his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard to announce that a memorandum of understanding with PNG on the centre would be signed soon.
However, Parkop, a key player in changing government on Aug 2, told Radio Australia people could only be detained in PNG if they had been charged with a criminal offence.
Australia said the fa­cility on Manus would be a processing centre but the governor said if people were locked up it was illegal.
"That can open the floodgates for, you know, police or migration here to put anybody in detention," he said, adding that he was prepared to go to court.
Parkop told Radio Australia: "I think it's not right that Australia keeps on passing this problem to its neighbouring (countries such as) PNG and Nauru and now Malaysia.
"Not just (immoral) but improper for them to flaunt their international obligation by coming up with these schemes."
It also quoted Australia's immigration minister Chris Bowen as saying it would be several weeks before the centre was up and running.
Australian refugee groups have condemned the agreement, saying asylum seekers would not get the treatment they needed on Manus.
Australia's parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs Richard Marles said the asylum seekers would be treated with respect.
"We will be approach­ing this issue in a way which makes sure that those people who are transferred to Manus Island are dealt with in dignity and
as efficiently as possible," he told Radio Australia.
"That will be the underlying principle behind the way in which we deal with the individuals who go there."

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