Australian Court Hears Challenge To Legality Of Manus Detention

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Lawyers for Iranian to argue offshore processing is unconstitutional

By Elizabeth Byrne

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 9, 2014) – Australia’s High Court will hear a case today challenging the establishment of the Manus Island detention centre.

Lawyers for an Iranian man will argue the declaration of the island as an offshore processing centre is unconstitutional.

They will also argue their client sought asylum in Australia but was forcibly removed to Manus Island.

The case is the latest in a growing list of High Court actions challenging Australia's offshore processing policies.

In 2011, the court scuttled plans by the Gillard government to send asylum seekers to Malaysia.

That plan fell short because Malaysia was not a party to the international convention on refugees.

The court found that because Malaysia is not bound by international or domestic law to protect asylum seekers, Australia could not lawfully send those seeking asylum there.

That is because Australia could not guarantee genuine refugees would not be returned to countries where they had a well-founded fear of persecution.

The Manus Island case is different as Papua New Guinea has ratified the convention.

This challenge is about other issues, including the legalities involved in processing individuals.

The case comes soon after the devastating riots which left one man dead and more than 60 injured at the detention centre.

No less than five inquiries are running, from a PNG police investigation to a Senate inquiry and a Federal Government inquiry run by former senior public servant Robert Cornall.

The hearing will begin this afternoon.

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