A VISITING Australian MP says there is no evidence asylum seeker claims are being processed at the Manus Island detention centre, which faces a challenge to its establishment in Papua New Guinea's courts next month.
Court officials in Port Moresby said on Wednesday an application to remove the centre, brought by PNG's opposition, will come before the national court on February 12 before Justice David Canning.
Opposition leader Belden Namah is asking the court to decide whether the detention centre breaches PNG's constitution and if the 235 detainees - including 34 children - are being held illegally.
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who on Tuesday and Wednesday visited the centre, described conditions in the facility as the worst she had seen.
She said there was no evidence of processing going on at the facility.
"I spoke to pretty much everybody at the centre. I spoke to them in different groups. There is absolutely no processing going on. People don't know when that will start," she said.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's attorney-general, Kerenga Kua, rejected the detention centre definition of the temporary Manus tent facility on Lombrum Naval Base.
"The answer to your question is that nobody is being locked up," he told AAP in a recent interview.
"If somebody is being locked up, it affects all those things you are talking about under the constitution.
"We are providing them with a place to live. It's not a detention centre, as people call it. There is no law in our country that authorises us to establish a detention centre. But under our migration act, the minister can set up a processing facility."
He said the government was inspecting seven sites closer to the Manus capital, Lorengau, to set up a bricks and mortar facility, and that he expected detainees to be allowed to interact with Manus locals.
Senator Hanson-Young rejected Mr Kua's claim, saying the facility was clearly a detention centre and described life within it as prison-like.
"They are not just locked into the detention centre, but they are locked in various parts of the detention centre," she said.
"To get from the family compound to the medical clinic, you have to ask to go, get approval to go and then be escorted through the gates to get there.
"Even the mess room where they eat their meals is shared between single males and families, so while one lot eat, the other is locked away in their quarters."
Senator Hanson-Young also said the detainees had complained about the heavy and frequent Manus rains, because it meant water seeped into the tents.
She said there have been numerous reports of self harm and suicide attempts inside the centre.
"The children, when I spoke to them both yesterday and again today, had witnessed adults hurting themselves," she told AAP.
"'Attempting suicide', they actually used those words."
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Source: Adelaide Now