Lawyer slams removal

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A LAWYER has condemned the “forceful” removal of asylum seekers from the regional processing centre on Manus yesterday, saying it was a breach of human rights.
Ben Lomai, who represents the asylum seekers, told The National that the persons responsible for the forceful removal could be cited for contempt because there was an appeal case pending in the Supreme Court relating to the matter.
“While the appeal is still afoot, there is no respect for the court process taking place and they can be cited for contempt in the face of the court,” he said.
Lomai said he had collected pictures of yesterday’s incident and he would discuss with his clients the possibility of filing contempt proceedings.
Lomai said his client Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani was among more than 20 men taken from the centre.
“If they want to move them (asylum seekers) out of Lombrum, they have to go to court and get an order because that centre has been gazetted as a processing centre,” Lomai said.
“So they cannot move to the other centres which have not been gazetted.
“By law, they are entitled to remain in Lombrum.
“That’s one of the issues we have raised in the substantive appeal.”
The appeal by Lomai on behalf of Boochani and others relates to a ruling by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia refusing an application to have basic services like water and electricity restored to the centre after it was decommissioned on Oct 31.
Yesterday, Lomai said police, immigration and navy officers went in at around 6.30am to remove Boochani and others. Lomai said they were suspected of being ring leaders involved in the protests inside the centre.
“He (Boochani) was arrested – there was no charge – and taken to East Lorengau,” Lomai said.
“That was against his consent and amounts to a breach of human rights because it is inhumane treatment under the constitution.”
Boochani claimed that the police, Immigration and Navy officers were aggressive and destroyed the asylum seekers’ personal belongings when they came to the centre.
He said they remained calm.