London, 3 November 2016
In September 2015, a coalition of international and Australian human rights groups launched a campaign on behalf of Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, then held in immigration detention on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG) where he had been sent by Australian officials against his will.
The campaign called for Boochani’s request for asylum to be processed by Australian immigration officials as soon as possible and urged the Australian government to abide by their obligations to the principle of non-refoulement—as defined by Article 33 of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Despite numerous approaches to the Australian government and relevant ministers and departments, by the campaign coalition and its supporters, there has been no response from senior government officials.
Since then, the status of asylum seekers held in immigration detention in PNG has changed significantly. On 26 April 2016, the full bench of the PNG Supreme Court ruled that Australia’s regional processing centre on Manus Island was illegal and unconstitutional, since the asylum seekers held there who were seeking asylum in Australia were forcibly brought into PNG under Australian Federal Police Escort and held at the MIRPC against their will. Furthermore, Boochani was accorded refugee status by PNG immigration authorities in April 2016 even though he had refused to formally seek asylum there.
Today, the coalition again reached out to the Australian authorities to reiterate its concerns and ask the government that, in light of the PNG Supreme Court’s ruling, Boochani should be permitted to have his asylum request heard in Australiaat the earliest possible opportunity.
Read the full letter here