Iranian non-refugees on Manus can’t be deported – lawyer

1:34 pm on 16 March 2017

A lawyer representing Iranian non-refugees from the closed Australian run detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea says the governments of Australia and PNG cannot forcibly deport them because Tehran will not accept them.

The Manus Island detention centre.

The Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Ben Lomai's statement comes after the Supreme Court denied an application for a stay on deportations for 166 non-refugees on Manus, the majority of whom are Iranian, effectively giving the PNG government the go ahead to deport them.

Mr Lomai said despite the ruling government would not be able to forcibly deport non-refugees who are originally from Iran because Tehran only accepts people returning voluntarily.

He said this means these men could be stuck indefinitely on Manus Island which could be the basis for a further application on their behalf.

"There is the possibility of filing another effort to say that the effect of this decision will now mean that most of these non-refugees will be residing on Manus Island for an indefinite period. And the fact that their residing on Manus Island is indefinite amounts to a breach of the constitution," Ben Lomai said.

Mr Lomai is also representing about 730 refugees, non-refugees and asylum seekers on Manus in a larger case seeking damages for the violation of their constitutional rights and their return either to Australia or a third country other than PNG.