PNG Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal By Asylum Seekers In Manus Camp

Case thrown out on technical grounds

By Daisy Pakawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, ) –​ The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed two substantive appeals by 313 detainees at Manus seeking the enforcement of their rights under section 57 of the Constitution.

This follows an application to dismiss filed on September 29 by Chief Migration Officer Rabura Mataio and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato.

The basis on which was that the Lomai and Lomai Attorneys were incompetent because the detainees were not signatory to documents allowing the law firm to act on their behalf as required by the Supreme Court rules and regulations, order 6, rule three.

A three-man bench granted the application and dismissed the two proceedings.

Justice Goodwin Poole and Justice Hitelai Polume-Kiele ruled in favour of the applications while chairman Justice David Cannings ruled otherwise.

Outside court, Ben Lomai pointed out that he was unable to get the signatures because at that time, no outsider was allowed into the Manus regional processing centre.

“That’s why when we got instructions, it was done covertly.”

Although disappointed, he pointed out that the court’s decision was on a technical ground and would allow him to collect more signatures now that the centre could be accessed and resurrect the substantive matter.

“The Namah decision of April 26 has confirmed that constitutional rights are being breached but no one has actually moved out from the place yet. Our substantive matter has not been resolved. We will collect more signatures and in one application, include about 1000 asylum seekers and refugees. When we file, we will put in some affidavits and go straight into summary judgment. We are not going to wait for the respondents to come in and prolong the matter anymore.”

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