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Manus refugees seek court petition to decide their fate

Asylum seekers from the Manus Island Regional Processing Center (MRPC) have now petitioned the Supreme Court to reach a decision which will ultimately determine their future as refugees.

Presenting the petition with 368 signatures to the Supreme Court yesterday, Benham Satah, a Kurdish Iranian asylum seeker pleaded the sympathy of the Supreme Court, to expedite the case of Behrouz Boochaniand and 730 others vs The State of PNG and National Executive Council and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato (SCAPP No. 17 of 2016) which seeks the compensation and resettlement of over 700 asylum seekers on Manus Island.

The case in question is that of in which the asylum seekers are seeking damages after the Supreme Court declared their detention at the MRPC as “illegal” in 2016 (Namah vs Pato, SCA no. 84 of 2013). Refugees were forcibly evicted from the Lombrum detention centre on the naval base in November 2017, but they are now detained in three other areas closer to the Lorengau settlement on Manus Island.

The question of compensation for the breach of the refugees’ human rights, both before and after the eviction from Lombrum, will be largely determined by the judgement. In their petition, asylum seekers raised the concern that more than six months have passed since the matter was before a Supreme Court bench in April this year, but that a judgment has still not been passed. Lawyer representing the asylum seekers, Ben Lomaisaid that he was notified by the associates to the chairman of the bench that the decision was ready a few months ago. However, the delivery of that decision has been held back for unknown reasons.

“The delay has caused substantial injustice to the asylum seekers and it should not be tolerated in the name of justice, particularly when the courts preached about upholding human rights in this country,” said Lomai....

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