31 Jan 2013

PNG court to hear Manus Island detention centre challenge next month

7:20 am on 31 January 2013

Australia's Manus Island detention centre will meet its first test in Papua New Guinea's courts in just over two weeks' time.

Court officials in Port Moresby say an application challenging the establishment of the centre, brought by PNG's opposition, will be moved at the national court on the 12th of February 12 before Justice David Canning.

Opposition leader Belden Namah is asking the court to decide whether the detention centre breaches PNG's constitution and if the 235 detainees - including 34 children - are being held illegally.

PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill's attorney-general, Kerenga Kua, rejected the definition of the temporary Manus temporary tent facility on Lombrum Naval Base as a detention centre.

He told AAP that nobody is being locked up.

Australian Greens senator, Sarah Hanson Young, who on Wednesday visited the centre, described conditions in the facility as the the worst she had seen.

She said it's not just primitive but it's also quite oppressive and she can't see why the government decided to move families.