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Papua New Guinea: Sick asylum-seeker restrained and force-fed

    January 26, 2018

    Responding to news that an asylum-seeker being treated at a hospital in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), for a serious medical condition, has been restrained for three days and is being force-fed by hospital staff after he went on hunger strike for 20 days, Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher said:

    “Forcing medical treatment and feeding a patient without his consent, unless it is medically necessary, may violate the right to health and the right to be protected from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He has gone on hunger strike to protest the poor medical treatment he has received in PNG and his need for further medical treatment, which cannot be provided in the country.

    “The Papua New Guinea and Australian authorities must address the underlying concerns raised by the asylum-seeker, and must transfer him to a hospital in Australia where he can receive the appropriate treatment he urgently needs.”

    Background

    The asylum-seeker is currently at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and is subject to a court order to facilitate force-feeding and current medical treatment. He claims that he has been slapped by hospital staff attempting to force-feed him.

    He was previously sent to Australia for medical treatment before being returned to Manus Island. He has been informed by medical professionals that his condition cannot be treated in PNG, yet Australian officials have refused to transfer him to Australia for further treatment. He has been at the Pacific International Hospital for just over a month.

    Around 800 refugees and asylum-seekers have been held on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for nearly four and a half years by the Australian government in restrictive conditions that are cruel and degrading.

    Just over 100 refugees and asylum-seekers were sent to Port Moresby in 2017 for medical treatment, some have remained there for nearly a year. Amnesty International spoke to over 30 refugees in Port Moresby in November 2017, many of whom said they had been waiting for months for medical treatment or had been told their conditions cannot be treated in Papua New Guinea because of limitations in the health care system, including lack of equipment or available specialists.

    Asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea are those who initially sought asylum in Australia, but have not had the right to fairly present or appeal their claims, even though they may have received an initial negative assessment from PNG immigration authorities. More than 800 refugees and asylum seekers remain trapped in PNG under Australia’s cruel policies of ‘offshore processing’.

     

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 or bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca