The Central Asian country, which at its closest is about 100km from Afghanistan, is on a list of nations authorities are weighing up sending those detained on Nauru and Manus Island to, particularly Afghan Hazaras, the Australian reports.

The federal government is refusing to comment on reports it is considering resettling up to 1,500 refugees in Kyrgyzstan.

“We are having conversations with other countries to support our offshore processing arrangements and when we’re in a position to make relevant announcements, the minister for immigration will do so,” cabinet minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Saturday.

Labor’s spokesman for immigration, Richard Marles, has written in support of a “third country” option for taking refugees from Manus and Nauru and says the Turnbull government has ‘dropped the ball’ on finding a solution to long-term detention.

Another Labor MP, Terri Butler, said opposition was open to any resettlement ideas, but need to see the detail first.

“What Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton need to do is come clean with the Australian people about how they’re going to settle people on Nauru and Manus Island,” she said.

It is understood a number of other former Soviet republics are also being considered for resettlement options. Negotiations with the Philippines over a deal to take a number of refugees collapsed recently, and the government’s agreement with Cambodia has resulted in the resettlement of just four people at a cost of more than $50m.

Kyrgyzstan has been criticised by a number of NGOs over its human rights record, including Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Kyrgyzstan 111th out of 173 countries on its Press Freedom Index.

Human Rights Watch says violence and discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people remain serious problems in Kyrgyzstan. Freedom of expression and assembly suffered setbacks since 2014 as attacks on defendants and lawyers in courts continued, it also claims.

The country is also ranked in the bottom 30 countries for levels of perceived corruption by Transparency International in its annual survey.

However, the country is a signatory to the 1951 UN convention on the status of refugees.

What next? Are we going to send people to Mars?

Richard Di Natale

The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, said Australia’s asylum seeker policy was now verging on the ridiculous.

“What next? Are we going to send people to Mars?” he said.
“This is ridiculous that we would look for any option other than the most logical, humane and economically responsible option which is to ensure we process people here in Australia and, if they are found to be genuine refugees, that they are settled here.”

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