Manus refugees court case highly politicised - lawyer

10:05 am on 16 March 2017

A lawyer trying to find a legal solution for a group of more than 700 refugees, non-refugees and asylum seekers being held on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea says the case has become highly politicised.

Protest by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Protest by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island. Photo: supplied

The men are seeking damages for the violation of their constitutional rights after the country's supreme court last year ordered the closure of the Australia offshore detention camps on Manus in which they were being held.

They are also seeking a return to Australia or relocation to a third country other than PNG that is willing to take them.

Their lawyer Ben Lomai however said he had come to believe the courts would not be able to help them as the issue was highly politicised.

"I am calling on the Australian government to now talk to Papua New Guinea and work out a political solution to this. We can't leave all these people there for an indefinite period."

"As I understand the US Homeland Security were here doing some assessments for themselves but in the meantime Australia and PNG must also look at ways in which they can be able to resolve this. And they must resolve it quickly," he said.

The court case regarding compensation and relocation matters is set down for a directions hearing on the 21 March, that is Tuesday next week, and Mr Lomai is anticipating a trial to commence after Easter the next sitting dates for PNG's supreme court being from the 24 to 28 of April.

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