Pact indefinitely keeps open ‘Australia’s Gitmo’


A new memorandum of understanding allowing Australia to continue to indefinitely detain asylum seekers at a facility on the Pacific island of Nauru was signed on Sept. 24. Since 2012, asylum seekers arriving by boat have been barred from settlement in Australia and sent to offshore detention centers instead. The deal extending use of the Nauru facility comes just as the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) finally reached an agreement to close the contentious Manus Island Regional Processing Center. In the dealannounced Oct. 6, Australia and the PNG finalized a Regional Resettlement Arrangement in which detainees on Manus Island will either be transferred to Nauru or allowed to remain in Papua New Guinea with a “migration pathway” allowing eventual legal residency.

The Australian-run detention center on Manus Island was found to be illegal and ordered closed by the PNG Supreme Court in 2016. Australia was forced to pay more than $70 million in compensation to those detained. But five years later, at least 124 asylum seekers remain in the center on Manus. Both the Manus Island and Nauru facilities have been harshly criticized by rights groups, and both have been dubbed “Australia’s Guantánamo.”

Despite these criticisms, several European countries—including the UK and Denmark—have expressed interest in establishing similar systems, in which asylum seekers will be forced to wait at offshore locations in an arrangement with a third country. (TNH, Jurist)

Photo of Nauru facility via Wikipedia

  1. UK in ‘shamefully cruel’ migration deal with Rwanda

    Tens of thousands of asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda as part of a new effort announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on April 14 to prevent people from crossing the English Channel. Human rights groups immediately denounced the policy as “shamefully cruel.” Channel crossings have increased over the past two years, and the UK has responded by initiating an overhaul of its asylum system to prevent those who make the journey from receiving protection. (TNH)

  2. ECHR rules against UK

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) June 14 issued a last minute interim measure to potentially stop the planned deportations of seven UK asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The ruling applies directly to only one asylum seeker, but the court’s reasoning applies to all seven. The ruling will delay the deportations until at least three weeks after the final legal challenges have been heard. (Jurist)

  3. UK plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda found lawful

    The UK government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda does not breach the law, the High Court in London ruled. The decision is based on UK human rights groups’ request for an injunction to prevent the removal of asylum seekers in June.

    In the decision, two senior judges at the High Court of England & Wales dismissed challenges against the policy as a whole. But the judges ruled in favor of eight asylum-seekers, finding the UK government had acted wrongly in their individual cases. (Jurist)