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May 18, 2021

Court Gives Two Weeks to Process Remaining 147 Asylum Seekers

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The Supreme Court has given the Chief Migration Officer and Immigration Minister two weeks to process the remaining 147 asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Within this timeframe, the asylum seekers, or “residents” as was termed in court today, will undergo an initial screening of establishing their contexts, and formal determination on whether they can be found negative or positive refugees.

Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia, told the two parties that the applicant, Belden Namah, and the defendant, Immigration, need to work together to fast track the processing of the residents before the matter returns to court on July 15.

After the directions hearing, Ben Lomai, the lawyer representing the asylum seekers spoke off camera to the media and said that by July 15 immigration should already have the list of refugees and non-refugees.

Lomai said the next step is for them to start talking about where the refugees should go.

Laias Kandi, the lawyer representing the Department of Immigration, told the Chief Justice that the transferees brought to Manus from Australia in 2013, were categorised into three main groups.

There are those that were processed and identified as refugees, the asylum seekers currently undergoing processing, and those identified as non-refugees.

Out of the 1,001 transferees from Australia, 532 were given refugee status. 359 were identified as asylum seekers, and 67 have been identified as non-refugees.

Lomai argued that these refugees should not be waiting for others.

Kandi told the court that a number of the refugees will be resettled in Manus or other provinces.

However, Lomai told the media that he has spoken with the asylum seekers and none of them are willing to stay in PNG.

He said many of them are liaising with the New Zealand government to potentially move there.

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