CRACKDOWN ON ALL PAPUA NEW GUINEA BORDER POSTS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 18, 1999 - Post-Courier)---The Foreign Affairs Department will immediately focus its attention on ensuring that border posts are effectively managed and transparent.

This follows the revelation this week that an officer based in Vanimo had seriously breached immigration rules by allegedly been involved in issuing Traditional Border Crossing (TBC) permits to anyone from PNG wanting to visit Indonesia, in addition to legitimate traditional border crossers.

Secretary Evoa Lalatute said yesterday that the department would now pay a lot more attention to officers running the operations at border posts.

"We will now give more attention to border posts where officers are posted . . . senior officers would be dispatched to these posts to interview and assess performance of officers,'' he said.

"Emphasis would be made in servicing the requirements of the officers and their families to ensure that they perform their tasks properly.''

As head of department, Mr. Lalatute said he was disappointed with the behavior of the officer concerned and the prominence given by the Post-Courier to the matter.

"Since Wednesday morning I have taken decisive action because the matter is now in the open . . . the officer was suspended as of yesterday and arrangements are now put in place to bring him back to Port Moresby to face further disciplinary actions,'' he said.

Mr. Lalatute confirmed that there were a series of allegations against the officer.

"The allegations have been wide ranging, involving illegal issue of passes for people crossing the border, drinking in the office and behaving in a manner inconsistent with official rules.''

Notice was issued on January 20, 1999, recalling the officer on disciplinary grounds. The recall letter was issued but the officer was not repatriated because of funding problems.

He said it was not only transferring the officer but the whole family. The officer would get a first available transport from Vanimo to Port Moresby where he would be further disciplined.

According to Mr. Lalatute, an officer from the Provincial Affairs Department in Vanimo would temporarily handle trans-border crossing activities. This was arranged in consultation with Provincial Affairs secretary Colin Travertz.

An agreement was reached with acting Internal Revenue commissioner David Sode for the Customs office to handle immigration functions.

Foreign Affairs Minister Roy Yaki was informed and was reported to be satisfied with the administrative actions taken.

Asked whether the Indonesian Embassy would be briefed, he said the issue was more in the administrative category so there was no need for that, unless the Embassy requested such a briefing.

Border offices are in Vanimo, Daru, Mt. Hagen and Alotau.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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