7 Mar 2013

PNG police arrest 19 asylum seekers at Australia's detention centre

7:08 pm on 7 March 2013

Papua New Guinea police say they have arrested 19 asylum seekers at the Australia-run Manus Island detention centre and charged them with offences including wounding, threats and an escape attempt.

The provincial police commander Alex Ndrasal says the charges relate to a series of incidents at the centre over the past few months.

Inspector Ndrasal says 18 of the arrested people are men from Iran and Iraq, while one, understood to be a pregnant woman, is from Sri Lanka.

PNG's foreign minister Rimbink Pato said last week he was putting laws before cabinet to allow the processing of detainees in PNG.

On Monday, PNG's Supreme Court is expected to convene for a directions hearing on a constitutional challenge to the centre, which now houses nearly 300 people, including children.