April 25, 2013
LABOR’S ability to send asylum-seekers to offshore processing centres is under a fresh legal cloud, after an Australian human rights lawyer lodged a constitutional challenge against the Nauru detention centre.
The government of Nauru has confirmed in a statement that Sydney-based barrister Jay Williams lodged an application of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Nauru, challenging the legal grounds for detaining asylum-seekers at the regional processing centre.
Mr Williams is representing 10 asylum-seekers detained in the Pacific Solution centre, who are facing charges of rioting and wilful damage, which relating to an alleged incident at the centre last September.
As a part of the proceedings, Mr Williams lodged the application of habeas corpus – challenging their detention at Nauru.
The government of Nauru said if successful Mr Williams’ challenge “could have implications for the future of the Australian-run centre on Nauru”.
The trial of the asylum-seekers for the rioting offences, which was due to start today, has now been adjourned until June to allow the Supreme Court to first deal with the constitutional challenge.
“Mr Williams also told the magistrate that he had been refused access to the centre by DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) in Australia which has prevented him from interviewing his clients, therefore needed more resources to mount a proper defence case,” the Nauru government statement said.
“The magistrate agreed that access refusal appeared to be in contravention of the defendants’ constitutional rights and he would seek further information from the Supreme Court on the matter.
“Resident Magistrate Peter Law extended bail until June 17th for the riot charges and set 7 June for the habeas corpus case to be heard during the Supreme Court session before Justice John von Doussa.”
A suppression order on the identities of the charged asylum-seekers continues to apply.