Offshore Processing and Third Country Resettlement: PNG, Nauru and Cambodia

Media Release: Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce urge adherence to international measures on the use of force and securement for Manus Island transfer.

November 14 2017 The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) maintains the belief that those whom sought Australia’s protection, and were transferred to Nauru and Manus Island PNG, have suffered enough.  The failed attempt to regionally re-settlement this group for more than four years has resulted in personal suffering, deaths and international condemnation from the United Nations.  The imperative now is to secure a safe place for re-settlement, or at the least, a safe place to continue the search for a sustainable re-settlement option.

However, in the instance that the Australian Government refuses to bring these men to safety, the ACRT urges PNG to uphold international measures, through various United Nations international instruments, to avoid using force to coerce, remove or evict vulnerable people from their place of stay.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“We support the PNG Government in the directive of their own security forces not to use force on the refugees who are refusing to leave the detention centre.  Where fear drives a refusal to relocate for the refugees and where a history of suffering is embedded in this fear, we urge the PNG Government to continue to avoid the use of force to relocate refugees to alternative locations.”

Many ACRT member churches have partner churches in PNG and have concerns about the way PNG is being cast as a violent and uruly nation in response to the refugees residing on Manus Island.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“We know that PNG has issues of concern for its population and its nation.  Australia’s history in PNG is a contributing factor to the challenges and poverty in PNG.  But for the context on Manus Island we recognise this is not the fault of the refugees, the PNG locals or their Government.  Australia wanted a quick fix to a situation which has turned into a protracted and harmful experience for many.  The situation has put enormous ethical pressure on all involved and needs to be resolved peacefully.”

The ACRT urges the Australian Government to address the fears of the refugees who remain in the former detention centre.  Without a resolution that either involves immediate transfer to Australia or heightened security, food and housing safety in the alternative accommodation, fears for the men’s health and wellbeing escalate each day.

There should be no reason that additional measures to address the men’s concerns cannot be put in place to resolve the short term situation.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt
Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
0404052494

Caz Coleman
ACRT Executive Officer
0411876226

Media Release: ACRT acknowledge refugee fear as centre closes on Manus Island PNG

2 November 2017

The ACRT recognises that the offshore processing arrangements when first proposed by the Expert Panel in 2012, were never designed to be protracted in Nauru or on Manus Island PNG. The aim was always for safe re-settlement regionally and was clearly articulated in the Expert Panel report to create such protection.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“The outcome of offshore detention for a second time in Australia’s history has created a serious breach of human rights and a devastating fear for those who are experiencing it. There are times when we have to face that harm has been done and that restitution is necessary.”

Whilst any durable solution for those on Nauru and in Manus Island through the US deal is welcome, there is no reason such arrangements cannot proceed in Australia. Achieving safety is the core purpose of the Refugee Convention. The situation on Manus Island PNG is clearly not safe for the refugees living there. Rather than blaming the local Manus island residents, it must be acknowledged that Australian Government leaders over the past 4 years have failed to recognise the dangers of warehousing refugees in communities and countries who have their own disadvantage, struggles and conflicts.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt:
“There is a strong system in place to prevent boats coming to Australia, so achieving safe re-settlement for those in Nauru and the Manus Island reception centre is an imperative. The level of harm may not have been originally intended by the Expert Panel in their recommendations, or by either side of Government, but it has happened. It is enough and we must learn from this.”

It is time to end attempts to abrogate Australia’s responsibility to care for and process those seeking our protection. Upholding Australia’s own responsibilities and working within the region to create sustainable solutions is the only way to achieve safety and dignity for each person requesting protection.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt
Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
0404052494

Media Release: ACRT affirms Liberal MP’s call to find durable solutions for refugees and close Nauru and Manus.

August 17th 2017: The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) applauds backbench MP Russell Broadbent for speaking in parliament about the need to resolve the situation on Nauru and Manus.  

Quoting the author and journalist David Marr, Mr Broadbent pointed to Marr’s comment that there could not be a better service to Christ than for Christians to fight for those Australia has imprisoned in Nauru and Manus.

The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce has worked collaboratively with other agencies across Australia for four years to call for the closure of offshore detention.  The ACRT holds the position that neither Nauru nor Manus, is a durable solution in relation to the integration of refugees in either country.

Taskforce Chair, the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt:

“We believe that any durable solution for those on Nauru and Manus through the US deal is welcome.  However, we firmly believe that Australia is the place people should have been processed and settled in the first instance.”

The offshore processing arrangements when first proposed by the Expert Panel in 2012, were never designed for integration into Nauru or Manus.  The aim was always for safe re-settlement and is clearly articulated in the report.

“Offshore processing has failed for the second time.  Neither Nauru nor Manus has the capacity or cultural readiness for integration of the refugees who were sent there.  People in both locations continue to live in fear with very few options for safety, dignity and economic sustainability.  Durable solutions must be found in either the US, Australia or another safe location.”

Mr Broadbent’s words in parliament reflect the faithful stance of the ACRT in the call to turn towards the suffering of those on Nauru and Manus and to create safety and dignity.  Australia has tried offshore processing twice now in two decades.  Both attempts have failed to create durable solutions and avoid suffering and permanent harm to those seeking Australia’s protection.

It is time to end attempts to abrogate Australia’s responsibility to care for and process those seeking our protection.  Working within the region to create sustainable solutions and focusing on community based care arrangements, is the only way to uphold the safety and dignity of each person requesting protection.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

The Very Rev’d Dr, Peter Catt
Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
0404 052 494

Churches appeal to Government to show compassion in the face of violence on Manus Island over Easter

15 April 2017: A Media Release from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce has condemned the violence that erupted on Manus Island on the evening of Good Friday, and calls for the camp to be evacuated. Read the full statement here.

 

Enough! Declare an amnesty today!

A Media Release from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Given the likely failure of the refugee arrangement with the United States, Australian Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull should announce an amnesty and bring the asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus to Australia. Read the full release.

Parliamentary Submission: Inquiry in the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016

Download the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce response and the Uniting Justice response.

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

Uniting Justice

ABC NewsRadio: Government Refugee Plan Only Raises More Questions

Listen now

The Greens say the Federal Government needs to end the secrecy over its “deal” with the United States to resettle refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

They want the government to reveal how many people will be resettled, under what conditions, and how long will it take.

It comes as key crossbench senators threaten to vote against the Government’s proposed asylum seeker visa laws that would ban those who arrived by boat from mid-2013 from ever entering Australia.

Misha Coleman is the Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

Speaking to NewsRadio’s Glen Bartholomew, she says the deal with the US raises more questions than it answers.

Government plan to settle refugees in the US ‘no plan’: refugee advocates

A “one-off” bilateral agreement that will see some refugees on Manus Island and Nauru resettle in the United States lacks detail and leaves many questions unanswered, refugee advocates say.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced the deal on Sunday morning that will see the 1800 detainees encouraged to return home, seek resettlement in the US or face an indefinite stay in the Nauruan community… read the full story.

From Sight Magazine: ACRT warns of “fear, uncertainty and trauma”.

31 October 2016:  Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says Australian Government bid to enshrine ban on refugees in law will create further “fear, uncertainty and trauma” by David Adams, Sight Magazine. Christian refugee advocates have said proposed laws aimed at banning refugees permanently from ever obtaining a visa to Australia will “create further fear, uncertainty and trauma” among those who have ever been transferred to the regional processing centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Read the full story…

Press Release: Bans on refugees to be enshrined in bad and sad legislation, and call on the Senate to block it

30 October 2016: New laws, to be rushed into parliament when MPs return to Canberra next week, mean that many people who have been found to be refugees will be banned from ever obtaining an Australian visa of any kind, even as a tourist.

The legislation will create further fear, uncertainty and trauma to anyone who has ever been transferred to a regional processing centre.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, which represents over 930 Christian entities around Australia, said today that “the Government clearly has no plan. Mr Turnbull has just not been able to find a solution, an alternative nor a long term plan. Introducing legislation to keep people locked up forever will never be a solution that the Christian members of the Taskforce will accept”.

She said that “there ARE alternatives, and we’ll be releasing a package of policy options, which the government has failed to find itself, in the same week as this draconian legislation will be introduced into the House of Representatives”.

She also said that “this legislation will drastically affect 310 people seeking asylum that I speak to regularly, here in Melbourne and in suburbs around Australia, who are largely young families with small children.

The legislation is called The Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill and Christians around Australia will be called to action to prevent the passage of this bill and to support alternatives.

She said that “The Government’s policy of offshore detention is in disarray – they need to find a resolution for people who are withering away in the offshore camps, but the government can only come up with punitive plans to distract from the fact that they don’t have a plan, they don’t know what they are doing.”

“In the meantime, churches around  Australia will call on their elected Senators to block this legislation.”

Media Inquiries and comment:

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739

Peter Stahel

Client Manager

T. 02 8280 9108   M. 0408 584 439