This could get interesting, the National Court of PNG has invoked a section of the PNG Constitution that permits it to investigate possible breaches of basic rights on its own initiative.
The National Court, having taken judicial notice of the alleged detention at the regional processing centre at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Province, of a considerable number of persons seeking refugee status or asylum in Australia, who have been transferred to Manus pursuant to memoranda of agreement between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia, known generally as â€œasylum seekersâ€ or â€œtransfereesâ€, and reports of alleged human rights violations and complaints about the conditions of detention and disturbances resulting in injuries to such persons, decided on its own initiative to inquire into such matters by invoking Section 57(1) of the Constitution.
The full opening statement by Justice Cannings is currently on Scribd, but Justice Cannings makes it clear that the intention is to visit the detention centre and talk to refugees:
The third stage of the hearing I anticipate will be in Lorengau, in the week commencing Monday 10 March. Evidence will be received at this hearing. The Court will inspect the regional processing centre. Transferees will be invited to give evidence. It is anticipated that this process will take at least three days.
The questions that he has set are:
- What human rights do the transferees have under the Constitution, if any?
- Have those rights, if any, been or are they now being, administered to them?
- If not, what orders and declarations should the Court make to protect and enforce those rights?
I suspect that the first one is the real substantial question, my guess is that if the court finds that they do have human rights then the rest will flow pretty simply from that. You can read the PNG Constitution online as a PDF.
Hat tip to Humanitarian Research Partners for mentioning this on Twitter (see below).
— HRP (@HRP_org) March 9, 2014