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Call for Independent Legal Observers on Manus Pending High Court Decision

Media Release from the National Justice Project

Independent Legal Observers Urgently Required on Manus

Guards accused of building tensions on Manus

Experts say that Border Force Minister Dutton should allow legal observers on Manus immediately.

George Newhouse of the National Justice Project says the Detention Centre on Manus is a powder-keg, pending the announcement of the High Court’s decision (regarding the constitutionality of asylum seeker removal to Papua New Guinea).

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse of the National Justice Project says that each detainee on Manus is about one false move or 30 seconds away away from a situation that could irreparably harm their future.

(In the case of Chegeni, one 30 second incident was enough to damage his “character assessment” and his case forever. The slant put on the reporting of such events is ultimately life or death).

“The long-term prisoners on Manus are by and large good people. However, they are also depressed after 3 years of indefinite offshore detention, under massive pressure and patrolled by an increasing number of armed guards. The atmosphere is allegedly intimidating and hostile.

Their cases might be adversely harmed by any institutional bias or misreporting,” said Newhouse, who has represented some high profile immigration detainees.

The Chegeni case proves that the institutional culture of Border Force or Immigration is antipathetic if not antagonistic to their interests. They are vulnerable and there is no-one there to independently witness the conduct of all parties.

Border Force wants to force the majority of these men to become residents of PNG. The men have collectively held out against this pressure. Possible tension arising from the High Court case announcement has become a pretext for moving in many extra security personnel.

“In NSW we have the Prison Visitor system to monitor events and conditions within high pressure corrective environments”, said Mr Newhouse.

“Journalists are banned. Doctors are gagged”.

“The men of Manus deserve independent legal observers to be among them for their own safety and to preserve the integrity of reports,” Newhouse added.

“We appear to have learned nothing since the death of architect Reza Berati on Manus in February 2014”.



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  1. jim

    Their time will come as in crimes against humanity Australia no not us surely?.

  2. mars08

    The inhumane bastardry of our politicians is astounding. The government policies of the past 15 years have been created and enacted specifically to punish and destroy asylum seekers. Those vulnerable, forlorn, powerless, traumatised people are being treated in a manner that would be illegal if they were prisoners of war!!!

    It’s collective punishment of isolated men, women and children who have not been found guilty of any crime.

    “…convention forbade inter alia the deportation of individuals or groups, the taking of hostages, torture, collective punishment, offenses that constitute “outrages upon personal dignity,” the imposition of judicial sentences (including executions) without due-process guarantees, and discriminatory treatment on the basis of race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs…”

  3. philgorman2014

    Yes Mars, another dark chapter of Australian history. It is being written written in innocent blood by political opportunists whipping up the latent fear, loathing and racism that lurks just beneath the surface of our society. Shame, shame, shame on them all! And shame on us all for allowing them to take over our country.

    Where are leaders like Hawk and Fraser who, for all their faults, did not flinch from doing the right thing by offering a home and opportunity to hundreds of thousands in need, regardless of colour or creed. The current packs of careerists, psychopaths, sociopaths and spineless populists are interested only in power. What a cruel, smug, self satisfied, self centred and self serving parcel of rogues.

    Perhaps we’re getting the governments, and the media, we deserve?

  4. Jaquix

    Time for an immediate amnesty for these poor souls. The billion dollars saved could be better spent on other things. Its pure hypocrisy for the govt to have these people living in torment (for what? Just a warning to other refugees apparently) at the same time patting themselves on the back at how wonderful they are at resettling the 12,000 refugees from Syria. Its complete madness – we have 3 classes of refugees now – those in Australia’s torture camps Nauru and Manus, those getting civic receptions in WA on arrival from Syria/camps, AND the huge number who manage to work illegally and stay under the radar since arriving by PLANE.

  5. Deidre Zanker

    This is appalling. Surely the court ruling tomorrow will lead to shutting down the concentration camps run by our govt.

  6. mark

    what a shame on the english settlement of australia.mark

  7. Terry2

    The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea is about to hear the case that the PNG Constitution does not permit the imprisonment of people who have not been convicted of a crime in PNG.

    So far the Australian government has used a series of legal blocking mechanisms to prevent this case getting into the Supreme Court and they may still be successful in having the case further stayed but then again the legal system of PNG might just resist the pressure of its former colonial masters.

    If the detention of Australia’s asylum seekers is found to be unconstitutional, which is highly likely, the Manus Island detention centre will have to be closed and the asylum seekers released.

    The legal fiction at play is quite ironic as it revolves around Dutton’s argument that we are not holding these people, the PNG government are. This ploy will support the Constitutional argument as, if the court in PNG accepts that the PNG government is holding these people then it must be unconstitutional as the asylum seekers have not been charged or convicted of any crime in PNG.

  8. stephengb2014

    The skulldugary of this government knows no boundaries – if they are prepared to pay millions to settle 4 asylum seakers in that corrupt asian nation, what price do you think they will be prepared to pay to keep their gulags operating out of sight ?

  9. Sir ScotchMistery

    Mars08 et al – I call BULLSHIT on that one.

    The inhumane bastardry of our politicians is astounding. The government policies of the past 15 years have been created and enacted specifically to punish and destroy asylum seekers

    15 years – 5 elections. 5 times they have BOTH gone to our trash body politik, and 5 years they have been returned.

    The inhumane bastardry is OURS, the politicians do what the voters want.

  10. Felicitas

    You Know Mars, I wonder just how much financial investment our pollies have in the companies that are given the rights to abuse asylum seekers. There has to be some form of kick-back for them to cling so assiduously to the concept of off-shore detention for non-anglo, non-christian children, women and men.

  11. mars08

    @ssm…. my mistake. You’ll get no argument from we.

  12. Rezblah

    Indeed sir scotch, although our politicians have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that aren’t the least bit interested in doing what the people want, otherwise they would

    It’s an utterly appalling situation and hopefully this court decision will be the beginning of the end of it all

  13. Kyran

    Well, it appears to be done and dusted. The government is acting in accordance with the Australian Constitution, and a costs order has been made against the applicant. Whilst this decision pertains to the Nauru operation, it will no doubt be used as a further stalling effort on the PNG Supreme Court case.
    “We appear to have learned nothing since the death of architect Reza Berati on Manus in February 2014”.
    I believe we have.
    We have learnt that deaths in custody under atrocious circumstance are no longer the sole domain of our First People.
    We have learnt that no investigation will be undertaken and no public discussion will be tolerated.
    We have learnt that witnesses, such as Benham Satah, will not only be denied protection, but released into the ‘care’ of those who will benefit from their harm or death.
    We have learnt that the abandonment of the rule of law in our gulags is so admirable, it should be imbedded into our way of life.
    We have learnt that, if these refugee’s react, in any way, to the adverse decision, they will become guilty of a crime in PNG and therefore lose any prospect of benefit if the PNG case goes ahead.

    With regard to Nauru, David Adeang, their ‘Justice Minister’, has released statements that any protests in Nauru in the event of an adverse decision will not be tolerated.
    If you don’t know the name, you may recall his wife burned to death on his front lawn. The Police didn’t investigate. The Coroner was kicked off the island, before investigating. But there was nothing suspicious. As for the bribery allegations, he was never charged. Dyson Heydon is not the only bloke who gets to decide his own guilt or innocence.
    The Free the Children NAURU face book page posted a curious comment on the 1st Feb, before Adeang’s edict.

    “We did not even think about protests and no one is planning anything violent or protesting.
    Yeah! We feel disappointed when they blame us for encouraging dangerous behaviour… we are all about being peaceful. We didn’t even know our petition being on the same time as the high court. We want to ask you to post our petition EVERYWHERE. Like EVERYWHERE.
    Of course we are worried and feeling anxious about high court but we are not doing any dangerous or planning to protests. We are just fighting for our future.”

    Why is the ‘Justice Minister’ advocating zero tolerance of dissent when those he suspects have advocated a far greater observance of the rule of law than he has? For the record, they have posted a petition;

    I doubt they would venture down that convoluted path if they were going to seek more immediate protest action.
    Not sure about the rest of you, but I have learnt the sole ‘achievement’ of our alleged government has been the relentless introduction of new ‘days of shame’. And this does not diminish, for one second, the complicity of an alleged opposition.
    Thank you for the article, NJR & AIMN. Take care

  14. mars08

    Sounds like a few more shiny medals are going to be handed out…

  15. Terry2

    The new arrangements on Nauru clearly show that these people are not in detention as Peter Dutton has been at pains to point out, just like the ‘Hotel California’ :

    “You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave! “

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