Both Australia and PNG responsible for Manus - Court

8:42 am on 23 August 2016

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has confirmed that both the PNG and Australia governments are responsible for closing the Manus Island offshore processing centre.

The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court.

The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

A three-man Supreme Court bench today discharged an inquiry in relation to seeking to enforce April's ruling that holding people against their will on Manus is illegal, and that the centre should be closed.

Amid claims by Australia that it was not responsible for the centre or the resettlement of any refugees there, a series of hearings since April saw Chief Justice Sir Salam Injia giving direction for the closure of the centre.

PNG Immigration has been given until the end of October to finish the processing of refugee status determinations for all of the roughly 900 men detained on Manus.

Today, the bench said that the court had already confirmed that both governments are jointly responsible for complying with the ruling.

This effectively paves the way for lawyers representing the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus to pursue enforcement applications for their release, and to have them returned to Australia as well as to seek compensation.

Last week, Australia's Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, met with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill in Port Moresby, following which both issued statements to the effect that Manus was going to be closed.

"Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed," said Mr O'Neill, adding that a series of options were being considered.

"It is important that this process is not rushed but carried out in a careful manner."

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