MEDIA RELEASE 15/12 | PNG SUPREME COURT RULES MAJOR VICTORY TO MANUS ASYLUM SEEKERS

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE

 PNG SUPREME COURT RULES MAJOR VICTORY TO MANUS ASYLUM SEEKERS

 The full bench of the PNG Supreme Court today (Friday) finally handed a ruling formally finding that the human rights of all those sent to Manus Island have been breached.

 The victory comes after almost two years of deliberate attempts by the Australian and PNG governments to stall and frustrate the case.

 The finding opens the way to a major compensation and also for consequential orders against both the PNG and Australian governments. Asylum seekers who missed out on compensation from the Salter and Gordon case will be eligible for payment for the breaches of their human rights.

 It is understood that the Australian government has undertaken to pay any costs and compensation arising from the case.

 “It is a major legal victory for the asylum seekers on Manus Island. Summary judgement and consequential orders are expected to follow today’s ruling in a February 2018 hearing of the Supreme Court. It goes beyond the Salter and Gordon case by providing a legal ruling that the asylum seekers were unlawfully detained. This will cost the Australian government, politically and financially,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

 “At the February hearing, the PNG lawyers will be seeking orders that the Australian and PNG government provide a safe, third country for the asylum seekers unlawfully sent to Manus Island.”

 In a separate (but related) application by Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani, the Supreme Court has set down a hearing on 5 February to consider the substantive issues of human rights breaches involved in the siege of, and forced eviction from, the Manus detention centre at Lombrum.

 “As suggested by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the PNG lawyers will be seeking damages for the human rights breaches associated with the eviction from Lombrum and the on-going beaches associated with the inadequate and inhuman conditions of the three detention areas on Manus,” said Rintoul.

 “Today’s finding is a belated legal ruling of what we all knew – and was established in the Namah case in April 2016 – that the agreement between PNG and Australia was unlawful and that the asylum seekers were illegally held there.

 “Now the government can no loner hide behind the lie that the Manus asylum seekers and refugees are PNG’s responsibility. The government must provide a safe third country to all the asylum seeker and refugees and brings all those who want to come, to Australia .”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713