Fund PNG court challenge to Manus Island detention

By Refugee Action Coalition

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Update Monday 20 April: initial target reached!

Thanks to all those who have donated so far.

Any money we raise above the $12,000 will still go to fighting the legal challenge to the Manus Island detention centre.

The next round of the legal challenge will begin this Wednesday 22 April with directions in the Supreme Court. But there are still hundreds of asylum seekers who requested to make statements that the lawyers were not able to see in their visits to the detention centre so far.

As well as the next phase of the court case, any money over the $12,000 will go to funding a return visit by the lawyers to Manus Island to obtain more testimonies of human rights breaches to put before the court.

Detention hell on Manus

Manus Island detention centre is designed to torture and drain the hope of refugees. For 18 months just over 1000 asylum seekers have been held there in appalling conditions. In that time, there have been less than 100 positive refugee determinations. No one has been resettled, nor is there any immediate prospect of this.

One year ago Reza Barati was murdered and scores of others on Manus Island savagely beaten by detention centre guards and locals.The mass hunger strike on Manus Island in January was the largest in the history of Australia's detention regime, involving 800 asylum seekers.

Legal challenge

But now PNG lawyers have launched a new legal challenge to the constitutionality of the detention centre. Under s42(1) PNG's constitution guarantees liberty unless a person has committed a crime or illegally entered PNG. And s42(2) sets out the rights of anyone detained in PNG. An earlier court challenge by Opposition Leader Beldan Nemah stalled over the issue of his "standing" before the court and officials efforts to frustrate the action.

Now lawyer Ben Lomai has gained legal instructions initially from 25 asylum seekers to bring the case on their behalf. This was only possible because legal statements were smuggled out while asylum seekers were in jail following January's hunger strike.
(See ABC news report here

The lawyers have already secured agreement in the Supreme Court to gain access to the detention centre to obtain statements from the asylum seekers.

What we need

But we need your help to fund the court costs. The legal team has already incurred initial costs preparing and filing the case and needs money to employ more lawyers and for transport to Manus Island from Port Moresby to take statements.

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Team Members

Ian Rintoul