By CHARLES MOI
ABOUT 600 asylum seekers who have been living inside the decommissioned Manus regional processing centre for more than a week have been told by their lawyer to stay put.
This follows a Supreme Court decision yesterday which refused an application by one of the detainees to have basic services such as water, food and electricity restored at the centre.
Lawyer Ben Lomai told The National yesterday that he had advised the asylum seekers to stay inside the centre while he appealed against the court ruling.
All services to the centre were withdrawn on Tuesday last week when the centre was closed in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling in April last year that the detention of asylum seekers there was unconstitutional.
Water and power supplies, food and security had been withdrawn since, while the asylum seekers have been offered alternative accommodation on Manus.
Lomai, representing asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani in the Supreme Court application, had sought an order to have all services restored for the 600-plus detainees who were refusing to move to the new camps provided.
Lomai said the safety of asylum seekers at the new facilities in Lorengau was his main concern.
“The idea is not to create a situation where it (the situation at the center) goes into loggerhead,” Lomai said.
“We are trying to find a solution to the problems.”
Lomai said he would also file a separate application to have his legal team, a judge, and lawyers representing the State to visit the facilities built for the refugees.
“We want everybody to go and have a look at the centre because the Papua New Guinea Immigration reckons that they have already provided everything,” Lomai said.
Kurdish Iran Journalist Behrouz Boochani, who is among 600-plus asylum seekers refusing to leave the centre, said they would remain despite the deteriorating living conditions.
“We won’t leave the prison camp until we are offered freedom in a safe place,” Boochani said.
“We committed no crime and are too tired to be in prison.”
By CHARLES MOI