Asylum seekers in Australia's offshore detention centres are pressed in on all sides. In Nauru, access to justice is slow and tortuous. And, in Papua New Guinea, lawyers acting for those who Australia forcibly removed to Manus Island are hitting roadblocks as they seek to litigate their clients’ cases.
Since striking an agreement in 1976, individuals in criminal and civil cases aggrieved by decisions of Nauru’s courts have been able to access Australia’s High Court. Smarting from the fact that the High Court has, in the past two years, overturned a number of decisions from the Nauru courts (with a common theme being the lack of procedural fairness to asylum seekers), the Nauru government has announced it is terminating the agreement on the pretext that it wants to establish its own appellate court.