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June 24, 2021
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Chief Justice: PNG Courts have no say on what Australia does on Manus

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The Australian Government will not be responsible for the provision of basic services into the decommissioned Manus Regional Processing Centre.

This was agreed to in court by the PNG Immigrations and Asylum Seekers represented by lawyer, Ben Lomai.

Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia, told both parties in the Supreme Court hearing today, that the PNG Courts does not have any jurisdiction over what the Australian Federal Government does on Manus Island.

Parties involved in this case, include the Asylum Seekers as the appellant and PNG Immigration and Border Security Minister as the First Respondent.

The first part of the hearing today centred on “who” was responsible for the consequences of the closure of the Detention Centre.

In discussing the legality surrounding the Supreme Court Order of May 2016.

The court saw that the Australian Government cannot be held responsible to continue to provide essential services into the decommissioned centre.

The Refugees’ lawyer Ben Lomai was seeking three orders from the Supreme Court today.

These include the restoration of food, water and electricity supply into the decommissioned centre.

Lomai submitted that under the PNG Immigration Act, authorities cannot force a person to settle in a place when the individual refuses to.

These submissions were based on grounds that there was a breach in the constitutional rights of the main appellant and fellow refugees.

But Minister Thomas’ lawyer objected to this and told the court, there is food, accommodation, water and electricity supply at the new site.

He said the appellant has always wanted to be moved out of the dentation centre, but when the Centre actually closed last Tuesday, the appellant is now refusing to move out.

Meanwhile in Manus, the area surrounding the decommissioned centre remains restricted to the public including media personnel.

There is a joint Police and Defence force presence on the ground.

This matter returns to court for a decision tomorrow morning.

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