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Papua New Guinea Supreme Court dismisses request to transfer asylum seekers to Australia

[JURIST] The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court [official website] dismissed an application on Thursday by more than 300 detained asylum-seekers requesting transfer to Australia. The judge dismissed [Reuters report] the case because the lawyer signed the application instead of the complainants. Any migrants who are intercepted before reaching Australia are sent by officials to either Manus Island in Papua New Guinea or the island nation of Nauru. In total, 823 asylum seekers are detained on these islands, most of whom are from Afghanistan, Iran or Pakistan. If the request would have been granted, officials for Papua New Guinea and Australia would have been required [Radio New Zealand report] to transfer the complainants to Australia or a third country within 30 days.

Australian refugees and their treatment have been a topic of discussion among international human rights organizations as of late, prompting Amnesty International to report that Australia is using the island of Nauru as an "open-air prison" [JURIST report] as a means to prevent immigration. In August Australia announced [JURIST report] that Australia and Papua New Guinea intend on closing the controversial Manus Island detention center. That same month AI and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued reports [JURIST report] stating that Australia is ignoring inhumane treatment of detainees in Nauru. Papua New Guinea officials claimed in May that Australian refugees are not being detained [JURIST report] on Manus Island, as they are given access to mainland Australia. The statement by officials followed a ruling by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court that the Australian off-shore detention facility was illegal, in direct opposition to a ruling [JURIST report] by the Australian Supreme Court earlier this year that the off-shore detention was legal.

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