Manus vs Australia: Asylum Seekers’ Detention Illegal, Oz Could Face Charges

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Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the detention of about 900 asylum seekers in Manus Island in Australia is illegal.

In its decision, the court says that the detention violated the seekers’ right to personal liberty under its constitution. Both the Australian and PNG governments have since been ordered to make quick actions in stopping it, according to CNN.

The court also ruled that the PNG government’s constitutional amendment with the Australian government is unconstitutional. The amendment aims to legalise the arrangement made between the PNG and Australian government.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton affirms that the country’s border protection guidelines will not be reformed and insists that it will not be welcoming the detained asylum seekers in the country.

Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), however, says that the PNG Supreme Court’s decision only reinforces the accusations that Australia failed to do its part in taking care of the detainees.

ALA spokesperson, Greg Barns affirms that the court’s decision is consistent with international law, Sky News Australia reported.

Barns added that Australia would be denying its claim that the detention of asylum seekers should be settled under the jurisdiction of the PNG if it ignores the decision.

For months, Australia has been criticized in the way it has dealt with the refugee crisis. Just about a month ago, Australian churches began “sanctuary training” on how to best protect asylum seekers from being removed forcibly.

The training is led by the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) and is backed by over 115 churches that volunteered to take part. Many churches took the pledge to apply the Old Testament concept of a sanctuary and protect 267 asylum seekers in the country.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has even stepped in, saying his country was ready and offered to take in some of the refugees. Key laid out an offer to take in 150 refugees a year but it was written off by then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

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