Sir Michael Somare
Papua New Guinea
Dear Prime Minister Somare,
We are writing to express concern about reports that your government intends to sign an agreement with Australia to extend the use of the Manus Island detention center by Australia for another year, following expiration of the current agreement on October 21.
We strongly urge you to reconsider any such extension. As you know, Human Rights Watch and other international organizations have been strongly critical of the decision by Australia to pursue a "Pacific solution" for asylum seekers. The detention of individuals on Manus Island, with little or no contact with the outside world, and without access to legal counsel or due process guarantees, is clearly arbitrary and in contradiction to the Guidelines of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. We believe these detentions violate Papua New Guinea's obligations under international human rights law, as well as Australia's responsibilities under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. You may also be aware that neither Human Rights Watch nor Amnesty International have been allowed access to Manus Island, following requests to visit.
Australia should not continue to shift its responsibility for refugee protection to other countries. We sincerely hope you will follow through with your suggestion, following the elections in Papua New Guinea, to allow the agreement with Australia to expire, and that you will uphold your government's commitments to fundamental international human rights principles.