Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Asylum seeker seeks to join PNG legal case


Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court is considering whether to allow an Afghan asylum seeker on Manus Island to join the legal challenge to centre.

A lone asylum seeker looking to join a constitutional challenge against his detention on Manus Island will have to wait until September for a decision from the Papua New Guinea courts.
Rawed Reza, an Afghan asylum seeker who has been housed on Manus Island since January 4, wants to join the challenge mounted by PNG opposition leader Belden Namah to Australia's tough new border policy.
Mr Namah's lawyer, Loani Henao, on Tuesday applied to Justice Stephen Kassman to add Mr Reza to the list of applicants, and pushed to visit Mr Reza at the detention centre.
"We are seeking orders from the court to have access to the assessment centre at Lombrum Naval Base on Manus, to obtain instructions from Rawed Reza, one of the persons who is seeking settlement in Australia," Mr Henao told the court.
Later, he told reporters Mr Reza was sent to Christmas Island in November last year.
"He's been in Manus since January 4," Mr Henao said.
"His wife and five-month-old son were killed in Afghanistan in December 2011."
PNG has agreed to temporarily detain all asylum seekers who try to arrive in Australia by boat.
This is the second challenge against the centre brought by Mr Henao and Mr Namah - their first was dismissed two months ago after it was found the correct legal procedure wasn't used.
At the time, the court ordered Mr Henao be allowed to go to the centre. However, Mr Henao said he was prevented by government officials from doing so.
When asked if email was the only way he had communicated with Mr Reza, Mr Henao replied, "That's why we want to go and see him."
The government was also ordered to present its response to the question of whether Mr Namah has the standing to bring the challenge.
Meanwhile the Australian government says it will continue to transfer detainees to Manus Island despite a similar challenge in the Australian courts.
PNG's department of immigration has said it is considering fitting resettled asylum seekers into available jobs in the public and private sectors.
More details of how a potential resettlement scheme will work are expected at the end of the month.
There are currently 223 asylum seekers being housed on Manus Island.
The court will resume on September 10

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