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PNG opposition challenges Australia refugee deal

Published on Jan 21, 2013 11:04 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Papua New Guinea's opposition has launched a legal challenge against the government's decision to take asylum-seekers from Australia, saying refugees are held illegally in inhumane conditions.

Canberra has been sending boatpeople to PNG's remote Manus Island, formerly used by Australia to process asylum-seekers under conservative ex-leader John Howard's so-called "Pacific plan", since late 2012.

In a statement received by AFP on Monday, PNG's opposition leader Belden Namah said his lawyers had sent Prime Minister Peter O'Neill a summons to appear in court to defend the agreement, which he claims is unconstitutional.

"We challenge the right of the government to force people seeking refugee status in Australia to enter Papua New Guinea to be illegally and indefinitely detained under inhumane conditions," Mr Namah said.

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