refugee

Call to fast-track process

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By CHARLES MOI
Lawyer Ben Lomai says that he had warned the governments of PNG and Australia to fast-track the refugee status determination of asylum seekers at the regional processing centre on Manus Island to avoid further unrest and frustration.
Commenting on the death of Hamed Shamshiripou, 31, from Iran on Monday, Lomai said he had warned both governments that pro-longed detention of asylum seekers after the Supreme Court decision declaring the centre as unconstitutional would cause further problems.
Lomai said he had made the call last year for Australia to find a third country quickly to re-settle the refugees.
He said there would still be
more problems as long as the asylum seekers were there until the scheduled closure of the centre on Oct 31.
“There’s no guarantee that one or two other people will not die soon if the Australian government is not going to do anything,” Lomai said.
“This is an Australian government problem. They have to come in and clean up their mess and leave us alone.
“It is not the PNG government’s problem anymore.”
“He (Shamshiripou) was mentally ill for some time. But nobody seems to take notice of it because everybody reckons it’s normal for people to behave like that in that kind of camp.”
“So that’s why there was not much attention on him and eventually he had to succumb to his fate a couple of days ago.
“The Supreme Court has made a decision and both governments must take measures to try to  reduce what would have given rise to the breach of their constitutional rights.
“Things like giving them freedom to move around and guarantee their safety to try to reduce the tension because a lot of them have gone through a lot of stress.”
Lomai questioned the actions of the officials at the centre to shut down water and electricity and close down some of the compounds when the centre was expected to close on Oct 31.
The asylum seekers numbering about 800 were without power and water since last week and had been protesting.
“It’s only 10 more weeks (until Oct 31) so why can’t they just leave them until they all go,” Lomai said.
“There is no point in rushing.”

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