More than 700 asylum seekers held on Manus Island have launched legal action calling on the federal government to immediately move them to Australia.
The application for an urgent injunction was filed with the High Court on Wednesday by human rights barrister Jay Williams.
It follows last week’s decision in the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court which ruled that the Manus Island detention centre breached the country’s constitution.
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The group of 757 asylum seekers is also seeking an order from the court preventing the Australian government from moving them to Nauru.
The group allege that both the Australian and PNG governments have committed “gross” human rights breaches including forcible detention, torture and degrading treatment and false imprisonment.
A solicitor for the group, Mathew Byrnes, also called for a royal commission into the operation of the Manus Island centre.
“In addition to the orders being sought from the High Court in these applications, we are of the view that there is an urgent need for an inquiry or a royal commission in relation to the arrangements,” Mr Byrnes said.
Mr Byrnes said any inquiry should be headed by retired High Court justice Michael Kirby.
The asylum seekers allege that following the Rudd government’s announcement in July 2013 that no asylum seeker arriving by boat would be settled in Australia they were forcibly deported to Papua New Guinea by Australian Government officials working with their PNG counterparts.
They allege their detention on Manus Island constitutes arbitrary and indefinite detention under international law.
The group also allege the Australian Government’s decision to detain them on Manus Island resulted in the murder of Reza Berati, who was killed during a riot at the centre in February 2014, as well as threats of death and cannibalism and instances of grievous bodily harm.
As part of their claim against the Federal Government, the group is seeking to be sent to Australia so that their refugee claims can be immediately assessed, as well as damages and legal costs.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the Department does not comment on matters that are before the courts.