Manus asylum centre unconstitutional

Letters, Normal

The National, Monday 20th August, 2012

THE Manus processing centre under the then Libe­ral Party government of John Howard was dubbed “Pacific solution”.
It was opposed both in PNG and Australia as un­constitutional, inhumane and against PNG culture.
Both Powes Parkop and I filed a Constitutional Challenge (MP No. 120 of 2002), on behalf of 356 asylum seekers detained on Manus Island.
We argued that the asylum seekers’ human rights were enforceable under section 57(1) of the Constitution.
Their detention on Ma­nus without charge and without their consent was in breach of sections 36, 37, 41 and 42 of the Constitution.
The government law­yers argued their detention was proper and in accordance with the Migration Act 1978 and the memorandum of understanding between the governments of Australia and PNG.
However, the government lawyers overlooked
a significant fact that the Migration Act would only apply to those asylum seekers if they had entered PNG in the first instance on their own free will.
Here, they have been forcefully taken from Australia or Indonesia and brought to PNG.
The asylum seekers were bound for Australia, not PNG.
Therefore, the Migration Act of PNG did not apply to them.
The legislation to reinstate the offshore processing centre is reported to have been passed by the Australian parliament and now pending approval by the senate.
What is PNG’s role in this law?
Is PNG still a colony of Australia?
Does PNG go by the Australian agenda and its cheque-book diplomacy?
Should our national go­vernment and Manus pro­vincial government compromise our Constitution and rule of law for money?
Our leaders cannot be blinded again by cheque-book diplomacy.
Our Constitution has taken a serious assault in the recent past by our elected leaders.
We cannot allow it again.
Much more, the people who seek to protect their rights under the Constitution must be given their rights, whether they are ci­tizens or not.

Paul Harricknen
Port Moresby