PAPUA New Guinea must present a plan and timetable for closing the Manus Island detention centre during its appearance before the UN human rights council today, Human Rights Watch has said.
The statement comes as Spanish construction firm, Ferrovial, announces it has completed the 75% buyout of Broadspectrum, the Australian company contracted to run the offshore immigration facility, plus another on Nauru. Ferrovial does not intend to continue running the two centres.
Human Rights Watch said yesterday that PNG’s upcoming universal periodic review at the UNHRC was an opportune moment for the country to explain how it intends to implement its supreme court’s decision.
“To comply with its own court ruling, PNG should take steps immediately to close the Manus detention centre once and for all,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch.
“PNG should make arrangements to send asylum seekers and refugees to Australia or third countries with capacity to settle refugees safely and with dignity.”
Human Rights Watch also called on PNG officials to show what efforts had been made to address concerns about human rights abuses which were raised at its last universal periodic review in 2011.
Despite pledging wide-ranging reforms at the time, PNG continues to lag in many areas. It remains among the worst places in the world for violence against women and children, police brutality continues with more than 1,600 complaints made in the seven years to 2014, and anti-domestic violence legislation has not been implemented, despite passing in 2013.
Abortion remains illegal in the country, and one couple was sentenced to five years’ jail in October.
“Over the last four years, we’ve seen no practical improvement in justice for violence against women,” Pearson said. “Countries need to press PNG to decriminalise abortion and implement the Family Protection Act without delay.”