MEDIA RELEASE | PORT MORESBY SUPREME COURT SET FOR DECISION TO RETURN OF MANUS REFUGEES

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE

PORT MORESBY SUPREME COURT SET FOR DECISION TO RETURN OF MANUS REFUGEES

A full bench hearing of the PNG Supreme Court, on Thursday 27 October, will consider an application on behalf of 302 Manus asylum seekers and refugees for the return to Australia of all those asylum seekers and refugees who wish to do so.

The lead counsel acting for the Manus asylum seekers will be retired Federal Court of Australia judge, Ron Merkel.

The application for Summary Judgement follows the PNG Supreme Court’s finding in April that the Manus island detention centre is illegal and that the Australian and PNG government ‘must take steps to cease the illegal detention of asylum seekers on Manus and the continued breach of their human rights’.

The summary judgement seeks the Supreme Court to order: (i) that the PNG and Australian government make all necessary arrangements for the transfer to Australia of all those applicants who wish to return to Australia within 30 days of the order of the court; and (ii) the governments of PNG and Australia make all necessary arrangements for the transfer to a third country (capable of offering them a durable solution) of those applicants who do not wish to return to Australia.

Lawyers acting for the Manus Island detainees have written to the Australian government have been invited to appear before the Supreme Court hearing on Thursday (letter here).

The Australian government has previously tried to deny any responsibility for the Manus detainees despite the clear Supreme Court ruling on 26 April this year. It is also clear that the PNG Supreme Court has the power to make an order against the Australian government.

“The asylum seekers and refugees have been illegally imprisoned on Manus Island for over three years. It is six months since the PNG Supreme Court ordered that Manus Island be closed, but those orders have been ignore. The application for Summary Judgement will give the court the opportunity to put its decision beyond any doubt and see the detainees returned to Australia,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The compensation payable for the multiple human rights breaches cannot begin to make up for torture that Operation Sovereign Borders has inflicted on people who sought protection from Australia.

“It is shameful that the Australian government has been willing to ignore the Supreme Court’s earlier decision. Both the PNG Foreign Minister and the Nauru Prime Minister have appealed for international help to resettle refugees from their respective countries, but the asylum seekers and refugees have always been Australia’s responsibility.

“We are hoping that very soon after the court hearing, we will see the first Manus Island detainees returned to Australia.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713