Lawyers for asylum seekers

National, Normal

The National, Monday March 3rd, 2014


THE Public solicitor has been ordered by the National Court to provide legal aid, advice and assistance to asylum seekers at the Manus refugee processing centre. 

Justice David Cannings issued the order last Friday to public solicitor Fraizer Pitpit, who is to visit the asylum seekers before the court sits in Manus next week. 

Cannings will be in Madang on Thursday where directions will be given on his visit to Lorengau, in Manus. He is inviting interested parties to lodge their applications in Madang to be part of the proceedings.

Opposition leader MP Belden Namah has already shown his interest in the matter. 

Cannings ruled that the Public Solicitor, his lawyers and officers should be afforded by relevant authorities all reasonable access to the transferees. 

The access will be given except for valid security reasons or with the leave of the court.

The court ordered Foreign Affairs secretary William Dhim to prepare, file and serve by Wednesday this week an affidavit confirming whether PNG is a signatory to the: 

  • 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees as amended by the 1967 protocol;
  • international Covenant on civil and political rights 1966, and,
  • Any other international human rights instruments that may have a bearing on the issues to be determined in this inquiry. It has to confirm the dates when PNG ratified such instruments and as to whether PNG has stated any reservations to which its ratification of such instruments is subject. 

Cannings said the PNG Government was the first respondent in the matter,the second is the Chief Migration officer and third are the asylum seekers.

The inquiry expects to close at the end of this month.