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PNG Opposition Leader Belden Namah takes on PNG law on asylum

PNG Opposition Leader and Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah’s legal challenge on the constitutionality of the detention of the asylum seekers on Manus Island, will begin with a directions hearing on October 7. Basically, Mr Namah is asking the high court to declare that:

The transferees brought to Papua New Guinea and detained on Manus Island through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between PNG and Australian governments, is contrary to the constitutional rights of the transferees (personal liberty) guaranteed by section 42 of the Constitution, and;
That section 42(1)(g) of the Constitution does not apply to the transferees under the MoU.
The section 42 of the Constitution talks about the liberty (freedom) of the person.

The constitutional basis upon which this proceeding was founded by the Opposition Leader on August 1 last year, was section 42(1)(g), which reads in the following terms: "No person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of a person into PNG, or for the purpose of effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal of a person from PNG, or the taking of proceedings for any of those purposes.

This in effect, no foreigner can be detained, unless they broke a law.

On February 19, 2014, the Parliament amended section 42 by way of Constitutional Amendment (No.37) (Citizenship) Law 2014 by adding a sub paragraph (ga) as follows: "for the purposes of holding a foreign national under arrangements made by PNG with another country or an international organisation that the Minister responsible for immigration matters, in his absolute discretion, approves; or".

Mr Namah said this amendment (ga) purports to legitimise the unconstitutional executive action of the government of bringing into PNG persons seeking asylum in Australia and detaining them and depriving them of the guaranteed personal liberty under Constitution section 42(1)(g).

Further, he also said the amendment was made to accommodate the requests by Australia for the processing of refugees in accordance with the MoU dated August 5 and 6, 2013, and not in the interest of PNG.

PNG Today / Post Courier 

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