PAPUA NEW GUINEA LAWYERS MAY PURSUE WEST PAPUA CASE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 14, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Two Port Moresby lawyers have threatened to seek orders against the state on the issue of West Papuan refugees.

Powes Parkop and Moses Murray warned the government to revise its position with a view to allowing the West Papuans to enter Papua New Guinea.

They notified the attorney general of their intentions to initiate legal proceedings against the state.

They are being backed by a several non-government organizations.

Their letter stated: "We hereby give notice that it is our intention to commence legal proceedings against the state regarding the denial of entry into PNG of West Papuans who are fleeing the conflict in that country."

It stated that as lawyers and law officers within the meaning of the constitution, they had legal standing to oversee the proper application of law in Papua New Guinea.

"In this respect, it is our view that the state has a legal responsibility under the United Nation Convention on Refugees to allow the West Papuans to enter PNG," the letter stated.

As a signatory and a state that has ratified all but a few of the clauses in the convention, the denial of the West Papuans, especially women and children, is a breach of "our treaty obligations," they added.

"We note that the government and UNHCR are reported to have denied entry of these people on the basis that they are not genuine refugees. We find this excuse to be shallow as we are unaware of any process to scrutinize the basis of these people wanting to enter PNG," it said.

Mr. Parkop said that in any event the legal requirement warranted that a potential refugee is to be allowed to enter PNG before the process of verification started.

He said that this approach was applied by the UNHCR recently in the case of Albanians fleeing from Kosovo in Serbia during the recent war there.

"We have considered the approach and standards," Mr. Parkop said. "We also wish to point out that even if they are not genuine refugees, it is the case in PNG that a West Papuan can enter PNG without a visa if he or she is fearful of his or her life."

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

 

SWISS JOURNALIST FREED FROM WEST PAPUA JAIL

PARIS, France (December 15, 2000 - IFEX-RSF/PINA Nius Online)---Oswald Iten is free. The Swiss journalist detained since December 2 in West Papua will be expelled from Indonesia

After 12 days of detention, Oswald Iten, a journalist with the Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, was released on December 13 from a prison in Jayapura (West Papua, Indonesia). He slept at his hotel and is to be expelled from Indonesia on December 16.

The journalist confirmed the Indonesian authorities' decision to Reporters Sans Frontières by telephone and promised to give testimony about his painful experience in the Jayapura police jail. He was detained in a small cell with about 30 separatist activists.

"Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) welcomes this release but regrets that the police authorities in West Papua showed an unreasonable determination to maintain the Swiss journalist in jail," RSF said.

RSF was among international and regional media organizations that had appealed to the Indonesian government to free Iten.

Iten was arrested on December 2 by policemen and accused of violating immigration laws. According to the Indonesian authorities, Iten misused his tourist visa by working in Indonesia as a journalist.

Reporters Sans Frontières has asked the government in Jakarta to facilitate the work of journalists in Irian Jaya (West Papua) province, where it said events are occurring that must be made known to the international community.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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