Manus Asylum Case Update

by Vanessa Knight – EM TV News, Port Moresby

The Supreme Court, last Friday, was presented an application by the Manus Asylum Seekers legal representatives, seeking two principal orders.

The first order brought before Justice Kassman, sought the joinder of an additional 287 new refugee applicants, to join current proceedings where there are 23 existing applicants.

The second order sought is to prevent those refugees who have not been accepted, from being subject to forceful repatriation to their places or origin, by PNG Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister.

However, the application filed by human rights lawyer, Ben Lomai, was stalled by an affidavit filed by the Immigration Minister and Chief Migration Officer; raising questions regarding the authenticity of some of the Authority and Consent Forms, which the 287 additional applicants signed, giving legal representative, Ben Lomai, instructions to act on their behalf.

Mr Lomai is representing the Asylum Seekers who say their detention is a breach of constitutional rights and seeking release and compensation on those terms.

Another issue was also raised by the respondents, regarding a claim lodged earlier, in the PNG National Court by 75 of the asylum seekers.

The case was adjourned to tomorrow morning for hearing in order to give the refugees’ representatives time to seek further instructions.

The resettlement of the refugees in the country remains a controversial subject, with the Prime Minister, Attorney General and the PNG State all admitting that prior to the May 14th amendment to the Constitution in 2013 which gave more power to the Immigration Minister to deal with asylum seekers coming to PNG from overseas, Papua New Guinea does not have any legal framework nor does it have a resettlement scheme in place for asylum seekers.

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