PNG court gives direction on Manus ruling enforcement

3:11 pm on 24 June 2016

A lawyer for detainees on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island says the Supreme Court has given further direction over enforcement of April's ruling that their detention was illegal.

About 900 of the so-called 'boat people' are still residing at the Manus processing centre, where they were sent by Australia.

Residents of the Manus Island processing centre queue for food.

Residents of the Manus Island processing centre queue for food. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

The Chief Justice this week convened an informal session with lawyers of concerned parties to map the way forward on enforcement of the ruling.

The lawyer, Ben Lomai, said the court granted an application to have all detainees joined as a party to proceedings in what is known as the Namah Supreme Court case.

"And so effectively now, all the asylum seekers are already part of the Namah case," he said.

"So we are now in a position to make an application for consequential orders to enforce the substantive orders."

Ben Lomai indicated they are seeking three orders: to release all the detainees; to return them to Australia to the care of the commonwealth; and to ask for compensation.

Mr Lomai has expressed concern that his clients' rights continue to be breached as the matter drags on without enforcement of the ruling by either government.

As to who is in charge of care and processing of the detainees on Manus, it remains unclear.

"In my visits and contacts with my clients, Australia is literally in charge of the (refugee) status determination process and they have been assisted of course by PNG Immigration," said mr Lomai.

"But if you ask them, they'll tell you the other way around. So that's a matter for both governments to really consider."

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has asked PNG Immigration for a list of all those in the processing centre and their refugee determination status.

Ben Lomai says the detainees come under three categories: those who have been granted refugees status, those whose status is still being determined, and those deemed non-refugees.

While Immigration lawyers asked for three weeks to submit the list, the Chief Justice gave them until next week.

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