20 Feb 2013

PNG Manus asylum centre challenge to go to Supreme Court

4:08 pm on 20 February 2013

A legal challenge against the Australian-run detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island will go to the Supreme Court after lawyers dropped lower circuit court proceedings.

This comes after last week's ruling by Justice David Canning, rejecting a request for an interim injunction on any more asylum seekers being brought to the Manus camp.

At the same time, the judge granted the lawyer acting for the opposition leader Belden Namah permission to visit the Manus site and interview detainees.

However, the lawyer, Loani Henao, says he was denied access to the centre and will be filing contempt proceedings against the officers of the government concerned.

The opposition initiated legal action, saying the Australian camp violates PNG's constitution.

The prime minister, Peter O'Neill, says there was no direction from his office or anybody else about the lawyer trying to visit the premises in Manus.

Last year, AAP and PNG's Post Courier were denied access by security firm G4S and PNG immigration, who told reporters they were following orders from Canberra.

Australian officials had earlier directed all requests to access the site to PNG authorities.