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Constitutionality of the Australian run detention centre on Manus Island

The supreme court of Papua New Guinea has reserved judgment in a case brought before it contesting the constitutionality of the Australian-run detention centre on Manus.

The case challenges the memorandum of understanding between Australia and PNG that re-established offshore processing in PNG in 2012, arguing the detention of asylum seekers violates section 42 of the PNG constitution which protects personal liberty as a “right of all persons”.

Lawyer representing the detained asylum seekers Ben Lomai said the men could not be detained because they had not broken any laws in PNG, nor had they entered the country illegally.

“The court noted ... that all the asylum seekers were forcibly transferred against their will from Christmas Island to Manus Island,” he said outside court. “The court further noted that the asylum seekers have never committed criminal offences to warrant their detention.”
Lawyers for the PNG immigration department said administrative arrangements between Australia and PNG over refugees were ongoing.
The court retired on Thursday to consider its decision.

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