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Non-governmental organisation Transparency International Papua New Guinea says there is a strong chance that asylum seekers held at Manus Island will be able to contest their detention.
Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has ruled that those held at the detention centre could, under the PNG constitution, appeal to local courts on human rights grounds.
Refugee advocates have welcomed the ruling.
Lawrence Stephens from Transparency International PNG has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the court's decision is logical.
“It's always been my personal view and the view of many other people in Papua New Guinea that it was illegal to bring people across the borders and lock them up when they haven't done anything to offend anybody in Papua New Guinea. So it would seem very sensible that we don't continue that,” he said.
“I don't know the legal side of it, exactly what would happen. What I'm very happy to see is there has been a decision made by the courts which seems so logical and is much in keeping with what people have been saying ever since the Manus solution was first started many years ago now.”
The Manus Island detention centre was first set up by the Australian Coalition government of then-prime minister John Howard in 2001.
It was closed by the Labor government in 2008, but re-opened by Labor four years later.
Its legality has been challenged before, and human rights groups have criticised Australia's policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers.
Stephens says Australia has made a mistake in encouraging PNG to effectively ignore its own laws.
“Yes, that is my view,” he said.
“We saw that the arrangements made between Australia and Papua New Guinea, both occasions are times when Papua New Guinea is desperate for the assistance of Australia and it is unfortunate that with all the legal wisdom that's available to the Australian government they would take that path the encourages Papua New Guinea to simply ignore its own laws.”
He says the Supreme Court's ruling is likely to "galvanise" activity by human rights groups on behalf of those detained in Manus.
“I don't know whether they've been deliberately deceived but it does seem that somebody has been making a serious error in not letting them know what their rights are.”.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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