Manus Island detainees challenge court’s decision

 Detainees at the Manus Regional Processing Centre have filed a slip rule application challenging a high court decision to declare void their human rights inquiry into their detention.
The decision to dismiss the human rights inquiry was made by the Supreme Court on Aug 5 after it found that trial judge Justice David Cannings had made an error when he started the human rights proceedings.
The detainees’ lawyer Emma Wurr, from the Public Solicitor’s Office, advised the Supreme Court in Waigani yesterday about their application to challenge the decision of Aug 5 during a hearing of a constitutional reference relating to the start of the human rights inquiry into the detention.
The reference was filed on March 31 last year by the principal legal adviser to the National Executive Council seeking the Supreme Court’s interpretation of sections 57, 58 and 59 of the Constitution.
Wurr told the court that the slip rule application was filed on Aug 7 and the State was yet to be served.
Lawyer Asher Chillion, representing the  legal adviser, said the slip rule application should be heard before the reference. Chillion said the slip rule application would affect constitutional questions raised in the reference.
The reference filed pursuant to section 19 of the Constitution raises constitutional questions which, among others, include:

Does the power granted to the National Court under section 57 of the Constitution to “act on its own initiative” permit the court to initiate proceedings, set what are tantamount to its own terms of reference, and conduct an inquiry similar to a commission of inquiry?
Amnesty International is the first intervener and the detainees the second intervener in the reference.
A panel comprising of Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Justice Nicholas Kirriwom, Justice Stephan Kassman, Justice Derek Hartshorn and Justice Terence Higgins adjourned the hearing of the reference to a later date.
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