SYDNEY – Papua New Guinea denied refugee status to a group of asylum seekers, but did not deport them to their countries of origin for fear they would be persecuted, according to a letter released Tuesday.
The asylum seekers were held at the detention center on Manus Island, one of the two centers Australia opened in 2012 in the Pacific to process the asylum applications of those who tried to reach its territory by sea.
The immigration authorities sent a letter to the detainees last week informing them that planning for their departure had started and included an assessment of the risk of deportation.
“This included an assessment of whether there is a real risk that you will be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary deprivation of life or the imposition of the death penalty,” said the letter, to which EFE had access.
“The assessment found that there is a real risk of one or more of these events and therefore the Government of Papua New Guinea will not remove you to your home country,” it added.
Hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees are being held in centers in the town of Lorengau on Manus after the Australian detention center on the island was declared illegal.
Australia and the United States signed an agreement in 2016 to transfer 1,250 of the refugees detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to the US.
To date, just over 110 refugees have benefited from this plan, agreed by the administration of former US President Barack Obama and described by his successor, Donald Trump as “stupid.”
Many of the asylum seekers at Manus and Nauru have fled conflicts in Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria while others have escaped discrimination such as the Muslim-minority Rohingyas from Myanmar.