Weekly media wrap - 6 March 2017

The Australian immigration department reduced the amount of time that asylum seekers have to apply for protection visas from one year to 60 days. Lawyers at the Refugee Advice and Casework Service expressed concerns that the shortened deadline would lead to rushed applications that would inevitably fail.

An asylum seeker with genetic skeletal dysplasia was allowed to stay in Port Moresby after the National Justice Project obtained an injunction to stop him from being transferred back to the Manus Island detention centre. The National Justice Project took the action on behalf of the man after receiving advice that it was unsafe for him to be returned to the detention centre without a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

A Nepalese asylum seeker reported being destitute and in hiding after being involuntarily removed from the Manus Island detention centre and returned to Nepal three weeks ago. The Australian immigration department denied involvement with such deportations, stating that these were ‘matters for the Government of PNG.’

It appears that International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), the company providing health services for detainees in the Manus Island detention centre, has been operating illegally on the island for the past three years. An independent review committee handed down findings that International SOS, the company that owns IHMS, ‘intentionally breached’ PNG law by failing to register the clinic with the Papua New Guinea Medical Board.

The Australian Border Force is investigating the extent of post-traumatic stress disorder in its workforce, allegedly caused by workers having to retrieve the bodies of asylum seekers at sea. Border Force chief Roman Quaedvleig stated at a Senate estimates hearing that there was ‘significant anecdotal evidence’ of such trauma.