PNG court rejects bid to restore Australia refugee camp services



Tue, 07 Nov 2017 - 10:37 GMT


Tue, 07 Nov 2017 - 10:37 GMT

This handout photograph taken and provided to AFP by Behrouz Boochani shows refugees and asylum-seekers at the Manus Island camp - AFP

This handout photograph taken and provided to AFP by Behrouz Boochani shows refugees and asylum-seekers at the Manus Island camp - AFP

SYDNEY - 7 November 2017: A Papua New Guinea court Tuesday rejected a refugee's appeal to restore water, electricity and food supplies to a shuttered Australian detention camp where hundreds of men have barricaded themselves in.

The remote camp on Manus Island -- one of two offshore centres that holds asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat -- was closed a week ago after the PNG Supreme Court ruled last year that it was unconstitutional.

But some 600 men have refused to leave despite having no basic services, saying they feared locals outside would be hostile.

One refugee, Iranian Behrouz Boochani, sought an injunction to restore water, power and food supplies, but his application was rejected.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Salamo Injia said in his judgement that there was "no real good reason why they should not voluntarily move" to three transition facilities.

Injia said while some constitutional rights may have been breached when the services were withdrawn, the refugees had "brought those upon themselves" by refusing to leave the camp.

Boochani's lawyer Ben Lomai told AFP he would appeal the decision.

Boochani, speaking on behalf of the refugees in the camp, said the court ruling showed "how we are forgotten people and there is no justice for us".

"We are used to the court decisions going against us", he told AFP.

He added that depriving refugees of basic services was "completely against humanity".

Australia's harsh immigration policy against boatpeople, which Canberra says is necessary to stop deaths at sea, has been widely criticised by the United Nations and human rights advocates.

Asylum-seekers are sent to Manus and Nauru, but the camps' conditions have been slammed by human rights groups, which have also campaigned to have them shut amid reports of widespread abuse, self-harm and mental health problems.

Amnesty International said Tuesday the court decision "jeopardises lives".

"The decision is an abhorrent attack on the right to life," the group's Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze said in a statement.

"If authorities don't act immediately, there is a real risk that the situation will catastrophically deteriorate."

There were rallies in several cities over the weekend against the detention of the refugees, with protesters calling for them to be brought to Australia instead.

Canberra has strongly rejected calls to move the refugees to Australia and instead has tried to resettle them in third countries, including the United States.

But so far just 54 refugees have been accepted by Washington, with 24 flown to the US in September, under a deal struck with former US president Barack Obama and bitterly criticised by his successor Donald Trump.



Leave a Comment

Be Social