9 May 2013

Manus challenge may go to three-judge panel of PNG's Supreme Court

7:43 am on 9 May 2013

A three-judge panel of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court may be asked to decide the next steps in the legal challenge against the constitutionality of the Australian-run detention centre.

The matter was mentioned briefly in PNG's Supreme Court yesterday in a bid to push past procedural issues that have delayed the case in recent months.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the PNG government, which supports the centre, and Opposition Leader Belden Namah, who wants it shut down, agreed to seek directions on how to proceed on Tuesday.

The government's lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss.

There have been numerous delays in the Manus hearings since the case was first brought two months ago.

Debates have centred around which court instrument - a supreme court reference or an originating summons - is the best mechanism for moving the case on under a new set of Supreme Court rules.

The controversial Manus detention centre has attracted widespread condemnation.

The facilities at the centre are designed to cater for up to 500 detainees. There are 276 asylum seekers there now.