Asylum case back in court

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday August 2nd, 2013

 THE Supreme Court will again be asked to decide whether or not the asylum seekers processing centre on Manus contravenes the Papua New Guinea Constitution.

Opposition Leader Belden Namah, through his lawyer, Henaos Lawyers, yesterday applied to the Supreme Court to determine whether or not Section 42 of the Constitution had been breached when the PNG and Australian governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding  in September 2012 to divert all asylum seekers to Manus island for processing. 

Another agreement signed into effect by prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill on July 19 this year now prevents any asylum seeker, whether the person is determined a genuine refugee or not, from ever ending up in Australia. 

Following processing they will be resettled in PNG or elsewhere in the Pacific or be repatriated to their country of origin.

Namah had filed the same reference in February this year but the matter was disallowed on technical grounds.

Yesterday’s application requests the court to declare the proper interpretation and application of Section 42 of the Constitution which guarantees all persons in PNG including foreigners their personal liberty.

Namah argues that bringing the transferees to Manus was contrary to the Constitutional rights to personal liberty. And that all those brought to the island are denied the rights conferred all individuals by the particular right.

He said in the application: “It should be noted in respect to the implementation of the MoU that:

  • Transferees are transferred to PNG by the Australian government against their will and subject to security escort;
  • Transferees are detained against their will at the relocation center on Manus island; and
  • Transferees are liable to be transferred from PNG to other destinations against their will.

Namah’s application was filed yesterday as the first 40 Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan men arrived in Papua New Guinea. 

The video of their departure had already been uploaded on the internet to deter others from boarding asylum boats.

“People who come by boat without a visa won’t be settled in Australia,” Australian Immigration Minister Tony Burke was quoted in The Australian newspaper as saying.

“The people-smugglers no longer have a product to sell. There is no point getting on a boat any more. And the first group that has gone across under the new rule has this apply to them.

“In the coming days there will be more and more flown across.”