PNG REMOVES APPEAL RIGHTS FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS: MORE THREATENED WITH DEPORTATION

Refugee Action Coalition
MEDIA RELEASEPNG REMOVES APPEAL RIGHTS FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS: MORE THREATENED WITH DEPORTATION

In what seems to be a knee-jerk response to the Supreme Court
constitutional challenge to Manus Island, the Papua New Guinea
Immigration department has summarily removed the right of appeal from
asylum seekers on Manus Island.

At an “open” meeting of Manus Island asylum seekers yesterday morning
(1 September), around 30 asylum seekers from the various compounds
(surrounded by more than 40 security guards) were told that they would
no longer be able to appeal against negative refugee determination
decisions.

Until now, asylum seekers have been able to appeal against a negative
determination. But yesterday a PNG immigration official told the
meeting, the PNG Minister for Immigration had decided that people who
got a negative result on the first interview would no longer be
allowed to appeal.

The meeting was also told that the Minister said there would be no
more cases in the court to stop them being deported. “There are two
options; either you go back voluntarily by IOM or you will be forcibly
deported by PNG immigration,” the official told the meeting, “PNG has
decided not to hold anyone with a negative result.”

The Supreme Court however has extended an injunction preventing the
removal of 26 asylum seekers until the next directions hearing of the
Supreme Court on 7 September. The Supreme Court will also consider a
general application for further orders against the refoulement of any
of the Manus detainees.

The meeting of asylum seekers was also told there would be no chance
to see a lawyer. Yet, the constitutional right to have access to a
lawyer is one of the fundamental issues being considered by the
Supreme Court. None of the detained asylum seekers have ever been
informed of their constitutional rights or allowed to have access to a
lawyer.

“The decision to remove appeal rights from asylum seekers is one more
indication of the arbitrary circumstances of asylum seekers on Manus
Island. Around 50 per cent of those who received a negative decision
at their first interview were being accepted on review,” said Ian
Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“PNG Immigration is trying to pre-empt the decisions of the Supreme
Court and violate the rights of asylum seekers. It is a shabby and
transparent attempt to  deprive them of their constitutional rights
and to intimidate more asylum seekers to accept being returned.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713