PNG court clear to consider detainee compensation
The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea has cleared the road for it to consider awarding compensation to assylum seekers on Manus Island.
The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea has cleared the road for it to consider awarding compensation to asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre.
The court has allowed two cases involving the centre to be joined: the Namah case, that found the centre was unlawful, and the Lomai case, which could also result in Australia being ordered to take custody of the detainees.
Ben Robinson-Drawbridge asked the lawyer Ben Lomai when might the court decide on the compensation issue.
BEN LOMAI: Probably by the end of the month or anytime there after because on the 16th we are going there to try and resolve those disputed facts. If we can resolve some of those disputed facts in light of the Namah decision then we will apply for a substanding order, we only ask for two substanding orders one is to release all the asylum seekers back to the first port of entry. Second is to have their compensation paid to them. But the other consequences would be in terms of like getting the commonwealth to rejoin or the problems of enforcing the order, they've got to be a party to enforce the order. As I understand the supreme court in the Namah case have already involved them. That's why one of the orders was for the Australian government and for Papua New Guinea's government to make sure that they prevent a continuation breach of personal liberty of the asylum seekers. That's what exactly happened when they opened the centre, so as to prevent the continuation of such breaches.
BEN ROBINSON-DRAWBRIDGE: Are all the detainees on Manus are they all represented by both of the cases?
BL: No, that is the reason why I will be travelling to Manus tomorrow morning. I am anticipating that we should be able to get an extra lot of 300 or so, to join so we can have everyone almost join. Except for a few who are not able to sign it. We should have around about 8 to 9 hundred people join. When I come back on the 16th of June I will also make single applications for the others who are not joined yet to be apart of the application for 2016. That's the strategy right now, so I'm hoping over the weekend because I'll be working full time even in the night to ensure if possible I can get as many people as possible to sign. This is for the purpose for the compensation because as you know the Namah decision has already declared that their rights to personal liberty have been breached so we can access compensation for everyone.
BRD: Was it easy getting access to the Manus centre?
BL: Well the centre is now open, I haven't got access to go in. I'm in a hotel, I put an application in but they wanted me to relaunch my application for some unknown reason. I don't care much about it because it's already an open centre so everybody can come to the hotel and i can deal with them there. We will arrange for a conference room for me to see everyone and they can come in anytime without making an appointment, even then we will give them documents to give to other people in the detention, and then they can have those signed and bring it back it doesn't really matter, I want everyone to join the proceedings.
BRD: So I take it you'll be on Manus for a few days?
BL: I will be there until Tuesday. On Wednesday I get the listings prepared and we head back into court on Thursday which is the 16th of June.
The full bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Lomai case on June 30th if the case is not resolved in that directions hearing on the 16th.
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