Confirmation that the deportation of people currently on Manus Island will commence this month is deeply concerning and represents a breach of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations, according to the Edmund Rice Centre.
It has been confirmed that people currently held in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre who have been assessed as refugees will either be settled in Papua New Guinea or return to their home country. People who have had their applications for protection rejected will be forcibly removed to their home country.
The Centre’s Director and President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Phil Glendenning, has warned the plans amount to refoulement – the forcible return of someone to a country where they are at risk of persecution.
“The implications of this decision are clear – people on Manus Island will be deported to danger, either directly or by stealth,” Mr Glendenning said.
“Even if people have been assessed as refugees, we know from first-hand and secondary accounts that the difficult situation in PNG leaves them with little choice but to return to their home country where they face immense risks.”
Since 2002, the Edmund Rice Centre has conducted research to find out what happens to people who are denied protection in Australia. As part of this project, the Centre’s researchers have interviewed over 300 people from 22 countries including Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
“We are particularly concerned that the vast majority of people will be returned to Iran, either forcibly or because they have been left with no alternative,” Mr Glendenning said.
“It has been made clear over many years that the Iranian Government cannot be trusted when it comes to human rights, especially the use of capital punishment. Under the current regime, capital punishment rates are at some of the highest levels since Ayatollah Khomeini.”
Past summary of conditions in Iran reported in Edmund Rice Centre Deported to Danger research:
"IRAN: Political and religious dissent is punished very harshly in Iran often with death or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and association are severely restricted."
"Discrimination is experienced by ethnic minorities such as Azeris and Kurds and by religious minorities: Sunni Muslims, Bahais. Christians, Jews, Mandaeans and Yaresans."
"Conversion from Islam is not permitted. The judiciary is not independent and often acts as an arm of government policy."
"Vigilante groups practise intimidation and violence with tacit support of members of government."
Media Contact: Phil Glendenning 0419 013 758
For more information about ERC Deportations research, visit www.erc.org.au/deport