Papua New Guinea is now allowing asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island to catch a bus into town, and even stay at an Immigration-run transit centre overnight.
The 898 men at the centre of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling that their constitutional rights had been breached are no longer technically in detention, according to the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Advisory Service.
“No asylum seeker or refugee is in detention,” Deputy Chief Migration Officer Gaegaming said.
“We are continuing to work towards fully implementing the orders of the Supreme Court.”
The ABC has reported that the restrictions at Australia’s offshore detention centre on Manus Island have been changed so detainees can leave the centre during the day on one of three buses into town each morning.
The men have to sign agreements taking responsibility for their own safety, and they are not allowed to just walk out of the centre because it’s located on a PNG Naval Base.
PNG’s Supreme Court ruled on April 26 that detaining the men on Manus Island had breached their constitutional rights to personal liberty in Papua New Guinea.
Refugee Behrouz Boochani said the changes had not allowed true freedom of movement, that they were separated inside the centre and are not able to visit the men who have been unsuccessful in their refugee applications.
“They are still controlling us,” he said. “Even when we want to go from Oscar to Delta [internal compounds] we should give our ID cards to the officers.
“It means we are not free to walk.”
They can only leave Manus Island if they sign an agreement to be resettled in PNG.
Of the eight men that the ABC know have done that, they say four are either working or about to start a job in Lae; one is in hospital having been violently robbed twice in two days; and three have returned to Manus claiming they had been robbed and threatened in Lae, or that they could not earn enough to live in the city.
One of the returnees was arrested trying to break into the transit centre for refugees, and another arrested for repeatedly asking for a phone and credit to call his family.
Will these conditions be palatable to the Australian Government?