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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 27, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Two senior Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs officials and a ministerial staff member released 10 alleged "illegal immigrants" as they were about to be deported in two separate cases.

Immigration and Citizenship Director General Parai Tamei, who was appointed earlier this month, said he would have thought he would get a lot of support from officials within the department instead of their working against him.

In the first instance, four Chinese immigrants who were held at the Jackson’s Airport police cell on the instructions of Mr. Tamei were released by the director general of another division, Joseph Assaigo, who was noted in documentation at the airport as the department’s legal adviser.

Mr. Assaigo, with Foreign Affairs ministerial staff member Quinton Chollai, later returned in the presence of reporters and asked to look at the tickets of the four illegal immigrants, saying that they had tickets and bookings to travel on to the Solomon Islands.

Mr. Tamei later claimed that the four had tickets to come to Papua New Guinea on business visas.

In the second incident, a group of six allegedly "illegal immigrants," who arrived on Sunday morning from Singapore and were supposed to be deported on the afternoon Singapore flight, were later released by the Deputy Secretary for Policy, Leonard Louma, on the same day.

The six men were taken from the Boroko police cells without their luggage to be deported on the Singapore flight but were returned to the cells when it was discovered they did not have their luggage.

While at the cells, Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Barney Rongap said he had received a call from a female official from the Chinese Embassy, asking that the six be released.

However, Mr. Rongap had told the caller that he could not interfere with the Immigration and Citizenship division chief’s work and so could not approve the release of the six men.

Mr. Tamei said a private lawyer was also brought in to try to release the six but was not successful.

He said they later learned that Mr. Louma had approved the release of the six from the Boroko police station without the approval of Mr. Tamei or Mr. Rongap.

Mr. Tamei said legally speaking only the minister, the secretary and the person in his position had powers that related to the detaining, release and deportation of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Tamei said in his effort to try to clean up the immigration office, he required everyone’s help.

He said even ministerial staff were not supposed to intervene with the department’s work.

Mr. Tamei also appealed to the Chinese Embassy diplomatic staff to work with his division.

He said this was to ensure that if citizens from their country lost their passports, new ones should not be issued unless a check was done with his division and the police.

He said these were typical cases of immigrants who entered the country and abused the system by overstaying their business and visitor visas.

Mr. Tamei said the division was not picking on the Chinese community but it seemed that they were the ones abusing the system. He said there were three sides to these passport scams.

Mr. Tamei said they involved the citizenship certificates, fraudulent passports and visas.

He said the highest cases of abuse were those of foreigners who overstayed their visas followed by fraudulent passports and then forged citizenship certificates.

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: 

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