This is PHASE 2 of our campaign to raise funds for legal help and other support for Manus men denied refugee status.
Thank you to all our supporters for your ongoing generosity and support
UPDATE: After many months of working directly with lawyers in PNG but making very little progress we have finally managed to secure support from a highly experienced Australian legal firm. An australian lawyer is now working directly on a number of cases, targeting those men most at risk of deportation. We continue to investigate the possibility of any legal case to encompass all those with negative status.
In the meantime we want to be able to release money if needed to enable any actions that might help men most at risk depart, for example through sponsorship. We will continue to raise money to support all the men with negative status until they are all safe.
After the forced and trumatic closure of the Manus Regional Processing Centre, Australia continues to detain about 800 men on Manus island in three separate camps. Two of the camps remain unfinished, experiencing ongoing problems with power and water and insufficient beds.
All the men with negative refugee status are in Hillside. Iranian journalist Behrouz Bouncahni reports that:
"They are the most depressed and hopeless ones. Just last week the Papua New Guinea police sent five of them to a prison in Port Moresby, and every minute there is a possibility more of them will be transferred there by force." (1)
Many men have already been forcibly deported back to danger and many more are at risk.
According to the International Conventions on Human Rights that Australia is a signatory to, it is illegal for Australia to refuse to process their refugee claims in Australia. It is also illegal to commit ‘refoulement’ by forcing people seeking asylum back to countries where their lives and safety are endangered.
The situation is bad enough for those whose claims for refugee status have been approved, as it remains unclear how many might still be able to go to the U.S. and Australia continues to refuse New Zealand's repeated offer to settle 150 refugees.
For the 170 or so men whose refugee status has been classified as negative, the situation is even more dire. Many of the men who have been refused refugee status cannot go back to their home countries, or will be returning to great danger.
Many of these mens’ claims have been unfairly assessed, lacking correct evidence, or based on incomplete statements. Many of the men did not want to take part in the assessment procedure when it became clear that it was not being carried out by UNHCR but by PNG immigration, for settlement in PNG and not Australia, where they all originally sought asylum. The UNHCR has itself expressed concern over how these claims have been handled. (2)
There is an urgent need to mount a legal challenge to have the refugee claims of these men challenged and re-assessed.
How Can We Help?
We urgently need funding so that we can support any immeidate legal costs in PNG, and to ensure that funds are available to support any legal action from Australia.
In most cases, each claim has to be re-assessed and challenged individually. We also hope to have lawyers continue to lok at options for mounting a case to cover all the negative men.
On her last trip to Manus in October 2017, Anne Moon was able to talk to the men about the need to mount a case and continue the work of collecting and compiling all the documentation needed. This has been difficult as many of the men were too despondent to be involved in any legal challenge, or suspicious that anyone asking for evidence was working for immigration. Many men also lost their papers after the blockade.
Please Donate and Share Widely
All the funds raised through this campaign will go directly towards any legal fees associated with bringing cases to court and paying any lawyers not working pro bono.
These men deserve a chance to find safety after the horrors of the last 4.5 years: that safety does not lie in PNG or in the countries they fled from.
Our government intends to abandon them. We cannot.
Who We are
Anne Moon is a long-term campaigner for Human Rights and a refugee advocate who has supported and worked with the men on Manus for over three years. She is in personal contact with many men in the camp, and has made 3 trips to PNG to provide emotional as well as practical support in the form of help with medical and legal documents.
Dr Helen Merrick is an academic and member of RAR South-eastern Tasmania. She assists Anne with organising files, evidence and raising funds for this and other causes in support of refugee rights. She worked for a number of Western Australian universities for 20 years in Media and Culutral studies before moving to Tasmania and focussing on community and voluntary work.
1. Behrouz Boochani 'Policy of Exile' The Saturday Paper no.194, https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2018/03/03/policy-exile/15199956005891