News National Australian doctor to investigate Manus

Australian doctor to investigate Manus

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An Australian doctor has been appointed by a Papua New Guinea Court to inspect the asylum seeker processing centre on Manus Island.

Cairns based doctor Paul Crouch-Chivers has been appointed by National Court Judge David Cannings to inspect the facility next week to help determine if the human rights of asylum seekers at the centre are being afforded under PNG’s constitution.

The court on Monday ordered Dr Crouch-Chivers be allowed enter PNG unimpeded ahead of a March 17 hearing in Lorengau, the Manus capital.

Justice Cannings said Dr Crouch-Chivers’ duties will be to “inspect, examine and evaluate the provision of clinical health services at the Regional Processing centre, and give expert evidence, which will be presented at the court in Lorengau”.

He will also examine the conditions in which transferees are accommodated and, if necessary, whether they comply with the human rights standards of PNG’s constitution and international human rights treaties.

The judge also ordered Dr Crouch-Chivers have reasonable access to the centre and that it not be denied except for “valid security reasons”.

Dr Crouch-Chivers, a public health specialist, has previously worked at the University of Papua New Guinea, as well as the Australian High Commission.

Meanwhile, Justice Cannings on March 6 refused an application by PNG Opposition Leader Belden Namah to join the case as a respondent on the basis the court was not satisfied he has a sufficient interest in the proceedings.

Mr Namah has a separate application to determine the legality of Australia and PNG’s memorandum of understanding agreeing to Australia’s offshore asylum seeker processing scheme.

The facility on Manus Island was the scene of a fatal riot on February 17 which resulted in the death of 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati as well as injuring 62 others.

The incident is also being investigated by the PNG police, the coroner and a former senior Australian bureaucrat.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said last week the coronial and police investigations will be “synthesised” with an independent review by Robert Cornall, a former head of the Attorney-General’s department.

Cornall wants to interview asylum seekers, staff from service providers and G4S security guards, but it’s yet to be decided whether immigration department officials will be present.

The Australian Senate has voted to have one of its committees conduct an inquiry, affording witnesses the protection of parliamentary privilege, especially staff with confidentiality clauses in their employment contracts.

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