Facilities at the Manus Island Regional Processing Facility
Facilities at the Manus Island Regional Processing Facility

Court rules detention of asylum seekers on Manus illegal

IN A major blow to the Federal Government's strategy to "stop the boats", Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has ruled Australia's detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal.

The court ruled the detention breached the right to personal liberty outlined in the PNG constitution.About 850 men - half of them found to be refugees - are detained on Manus.

The PNG and Australian Governments have been ordered by the court to immediately move to end the detention of asylum seekers in PNG.

The shock development follows revelations in Monday's Four Corners program about the death of an asylum seeker from Manus Island.

The bureaucratic delay that arguably led to the death was dubbed "pathetic" by Australian Medical Association president Dr Brian Owler.

The program revealed the urgent medical evacuation of Iranian Hamid Khazaei, 24, in August 2014 was delayed by almost 30 hours partly because a public servant had gone home for the day and did not check his emails until the following morning.

"If bureaucrats want to take responsibility for people's medical care, the least they could do is be available 24/7," Dr Owler said. Mr Khazaei, 24, died in Brisbane's Mater Hospital 13 days after he became ill from a skin infection, which progressed to septicemia.

He had three heart attacks before he was finally evacuated to Australia after being taken to Port Moresby instead of to Brisbane as doctors had recommended.

Several doctors who appeared on the program could be imprisoned under the Border Force Act, which prohibits detention system workers from disclosing information.

Hours before Mr Khazaei's death, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said:

"Our focus and care has been on this young man from the moment he presented to medical officers at Manus Island."