SOLOMONS USED FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, SAYS PNG REPORT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 29, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands has been used as a "soft spot" in facilitating the movement of illegal immigration through Papua New Guinea, according to investigation reports.

The fellow Melanesian neighbor has been used to forge PNG travel documents and as a suspected transit point for illegal immigrants passing through PNG for greener pastures like Australia, the reports claim.

Two notable cases brought to the attention of authorities were the alleged issuing of a PNG passport in the capital, Honiara, and an attempt by a group of Sri Lankiness to cross into the Solomons Islands through Buka Island, off Bougainville.

However, the Papua New Guinea High Commission in Honiara has rejected suggestions in the report that it issued a PNG passport to an African.

High Commissioner Ponabe Yuwa said he was extremely concerned about the allegations in recent media reports that his office had processed the passport.

"I wish to categorically deny any knowledge of such an occurrence during my time here and stress, as you may realize, that PNG passports are not issued by PNG diplomatic missions abroad," Mr. Yuwa said in a letter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Evoa Lalatute.

He explained that overseas missions only issue a Certificate of Identity, which is done only in emergency situations when, for instance, a passport is lost or destroyed and one has to return home.

Mr. Yuwa requested details from Waigani so that the alleged scam could be investigated in Honiara.

Investigations by The National newspaper showed that the person in question (named) was in possession of PNG passport No.70315 that was issued in Port Moresby on May 23, 1999.

Strangely, the passport is valid to May 23, 2007 - three years more than the five years for an ordinary PNG passport.

The passport holder is shown to have been born in Kavieng, New Ireland province, on July 21, 1970.

The exchange of correspondence between Mr. Yuwa and Mr. Lalatute took place on June 20 last year.

Three months later, the National Intelligence Organization brought to the attention of the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir Michael Somare, the arrest of four Sri Lankans in Port Moresby for attempting to travel to the Solomon Islands on forged documents.

The Sri Lankans had entered PNG with legitimate passports from their country but tried to depart using forged British passports.

They were stranded in Buka in early September last year and returned to Port Moresby where they were arrested. They told the authorities that they were attempting to cross over into the Solomon Islands.

Two were deported on September 18 while their mastermind was jailed for two months at Bomana before being deported.

These illegals told PNG authorities that they had paid K 4,000 each (US$ 1,224) to a fellow Sri Lankan (named) who had promised to get them into Australia.

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

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

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