Posted By Staff Reporter
The PNG Immigration Authorities will conduct comprehensive interviews with West Papuan activities now repatriated to East Awin Refugee camp, outside Kiunga in Western Province.
PNG Immigrations Chief Migration Officer, Mataio Rabura says their stories of the number of days spent in PNG ranges from 3 days to more than 7 days and authorities will verify these when comprehensive interviews are completed.
The Australian Authorities sent the five young men, a female and a ten year old child back to PNG, last month, after they enter Australia without valid permit.
The Australian Authorities said they were sent back to PNG because they spent seven days as per the 2003 MOU.
The 2003 MOU states that persons entering another country without valid permit but resided in one particular country for over seven days must be return to that country.
But the group when first met by PNG immigration officials in Port Moresby, insisted that they only spent two-days transiting through PNG/Indonesia boarder through Daru and to Australia when they were met by Australian Authorities on Boigu Island.
They argued they only transited through PNG to Australia seeking asylum there.
The seven fled from persecution in Merauke, for their participation in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from indigenous Australian elders as part of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua.
Mr Rabura says they were sent to East Awin camp because they didn't decide whether they wanted their claims assessed by PNG or be sent home.
He says they have been informed that their claims will be assessed in PNG with the support from the UNHCR and will commence soon as they decide what they want.
He says once their status is determined, if granted refugee status by PNG, they will be granted refugee visa, a new visa class is being arranged, they can stay in PNG until they are eligible for citizenship. If not granted refugee status, they will be sent back to West Papua.
The Chief Migration Officer also says the PNG Government recently abolished citizenship fees for refugees so the issue of affording the application are not relevant anymore and that the eligibility requirements of citizenship by Naturalization is the same as any other applicant.
Mr Rabura also says the East Awin camp is the Centre where all West Papuan Asylum Seekers are processed and is Gazetted by law and managed by the Department of Provincial Affairs with support from the UNHCR.
Meanwhile, one female among the group has been identified as a citizen of PNG and did not followed the other male to East Awin camp.
Mr Rabura says she will be transferred to her village in Western Province this week.
Meanwhile, West Papuan Communities in Port Moresby with the support from their friends are seeking legal advice with lawyers who are volunteering to assist them to pursue the case in court.
Their main argument would be the 2003 MOU between PNG and Australia.
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