By Paul Karp and Sarah Martin, The Guardian, August 2019
Asylum seekers held in a Papua New Guinean detention facility are being prevented from talking to lawyers and doctors, blocking them from medical evacuation to Australia approved under new medevac laws.
David Manne, the executive director of Refugee Legal, told a Senate inquiry on Monday that he had lost contact with one client who had been approved for urgent evacuation weeks ago but was then detained at the Bomana detention facility in Papua New Guinea.
Sara Townend, who has set up the process for medical assessment of people in PNG and Nauru, told the legal and constitutional affairs committee that two or three more were approved for evacuation after their detention and 33 have applications in progress, a “large number” of who would be eligible for evacuation.
Townend said the 53 asylum seekers detained at Bomana do not have access to their phones and the medical evacuation response group does not have a central phone number to have “approved communications” with them.
Manne said the inability to contact his client was a matter of “profound concern”.
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