Papua New Guinea’s Refugee Track Record and Its Obligations under the 2013 Regional Resettlement Arrangement with Australia

Author/s (editor/s):

Diana Glazebrook

Publication year:


Publication type:

Discussion paper

in September 2013, public attention focused dramatically on Papua New Guinea (PNG) in terms of the joint PNG–Australia Regional Resettlement Arrangement, the subject of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on 6 August 2013 (DFAT 2013a). In short, Australia would transfer asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat after 19 July 2013 to PNG where their claim for refugee status would be assessed, under PNG law, and those found to be refugees would be resettled in PNG ‘and in any other participating regional, including Pacific Island, states’ (DFAT 2013b). (Nauru is the only other current participating regional state, with Cambodia considering resettlement of asylum seekers at the time of publication (AAP 2014).) While the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Act 20122 provided for assessment of asylum seekers by PNG, it was the August 2013 Regional Resettlement Arrangement (mentioned as the 2013 Arrangement) that provided for resettlement in PNG, of asylum seekers determined to be refugees. In accordance with the 2013 Arrangement, the full cost of implementing the arrangement in PNG, that is, transfer, assessment, and resettlement, would be met by Australia.

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