PNG court defers student eviction

6:08 pm on 1 June 2016

The National Court in Papua New Guinea has slapped an interim injunction on the University of PNG, stopping it from evicting protesting students from its two Port Moresby campuses.

Students attend a rally at UPNG.

Students attend a rally at UPNG. Photo: UPNG4PNG

The order was issued by Justice Collin Makail today and remains in place until another hearing of the court on June the 22nd.

Last week, Justice Mikail issued a stay order that prevented the University from executing a 48 hour eviction notice and suspending the first semester.

One of the student leaders, Gerald Tulu Manu-Peni, said today's injunction only applies to the eviction, thus allowing the semester to be suspended.

The suspension follows a month long boycott of classes by UPNG students, who are demanding the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, step down to face corruption allegations.

The legal challenge to the students' eviction was mounted by the UPNG Student Representative Council.

About 2,400 students live in dormitories on the campuses, and Mr Manu-Peni said the Judge issued the injunction order on humanitarian grounds.

As the majority of students come from provinces outside of the Capital District, Mr Manu- Peni said the Judge felt "ample time should be given to the students" to organise their possible relocation.

"The students are still residing on campus even though the classes have been suspended," said Mr Manu-Peni.

"The decision has gone down well with the majority of the students. It has given us hope. We have not and will not back down from our cause. It's worth fighting for."

UPNG administration was not able to comment on the injunction until after a meeting of its Council taking place this afternoon.

University administrators said previously that the Council was looking for a way to reincorporate five weeks lost from the first semester into the second, by extending the academic year.