Refugees petition PNG Supreme Court over delayed judgement

| October 2, 2018 | Reply

Refugees from Manus Island will present a petition with 368 signatures calling on the PNG Supreme Court to hand down the judgement that will significantly determine their future.

A delegation of refugees will present the petition to the PNG Supreme Court, Waigani, Port Moresby at 9.00am, Wednesday, 3 October. (The text of the petition is pasted below. A copy of the signed petition is available on request.)

In April 2016, the PNG Supreme Court found that the detention of asylum seekers sent to Manus Island was unconstitutional and unlawful. Subsequent court action sought specific court orders in regard to the compensation and resettlement in safe countries of over 700 individuals held on Manus Island.

Numerous technical delays have attempted to frustrate the case since 2016.

The final attempt to stall the case was an attempt to have the case dismissed as being “out of time” over the technical question of when “detention” actually ceased in 2016.
That aspect of the case, SCAPP No. 17 of 2016, Behrouz Boochani v. The State and PNG Immigration, was presided over by Judges Allen David, Derrick Hartshorn and Bathuel Key Dingake on the 12 April 2018. But the judgement has not been handed down.

Refugees were forcibly evicted from the Lombrum detention centre on the naval base in November 2017, but they are now detained in three other areas closer to the Lorengau settlement on Manus Island.

The question of compensation for the breach of the refugees’ human rights, both before and after the eviction from Lombrum, will be largely determined by the judgement.

“The refugees on Manus have been unlawfully held for five years on Manus Island in breach of the PNG constitution,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney,

“They were sent there under an MOU that the PNG Supreme Court has found to be unlawful. But they are still imprisoned on Manus, and it is still unlawful.

“A terrible injustice was inflicted on them when Australia forcibly sent them to Manus Island in 2013. That injustice is being prolonged by the delay in the handing down the judgement.

“The Manus refugees need freedom, certainty and a secure future.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

(A contact number for comment by a refugee at the Supreme Court presentation is available on request)

To: Chief Justice, PNG Supreme Court

Honourable Sir,

We, the undersigned, are asylum seekers, forcibly, and illegally brought to Manus Island by Australia after 19 July, 2013, as determined by the PNG Supreme Court in Namah v Pato, 26 April 2016.

Despite that judgement, we continue to be held in PNG by the Australian government.

Our future is uncertain and relies on the outcome of the case Boochani V Pato (SCAPP 17 of 2016). Crucial questions of our freedom and breach of constitutional and human rights are being determined by the judgement.

We have been held in PNG for almost five years; six of us have died while we have been waiting. Our case was argued before the Supreme Court on 6 April, 2018. It is now many months, we are waiting for our case to be finalised. For us, justice delayed is justice denied.

We thank the court for properly considering our case, but the judgement is vitally important for us to be able to get on with our lives. Many of us are sick and need treatment; many others are suffering mentally because we do not know our future. All of us need freedom.

We humbly request that our case is resolved and a date set in the very near future for the judgement to be handed down.


Category: Press releases

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