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Senior judge says illegal entry on rise

By Gabriel Fito

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 5, 2008) - A senior District Court magistrate has called on the Government to beef up surveillance along the PNG -Indonesian border if they are serious about addressing the escalating cases of border crossers.

Sandaun senior provincial magistrate Thomas Morabang said cases of illegal entry into the country through the PNG-Indonesian border were increasing and something must be done immediately to stop people from other countries migrating to PNG.

Mr. Morabang said people were just sneaking into the country and responsible Government agencies were not doing anything to monitor their movements except for a few cases where police have uncovered. He said most of these illegal border crossers had come through the border post at Wutung unnoticed.

Morabang hinted that such incidents could only mean that Customs and Immigration officers were not doing their job. He said it was about time officers start performing in order to control an influx of unauthorized persons entering our soil. The magistrate made the call following three cases of illegal entry that went before the Vanimo District Court last month.

In the first case, two men from Paniai Tigi, West Papua were convicted and fined PGK1,000 [US$300] each in default two months in prison last January 4 .

Another two men from Ambai village, West Papua who came in on a boat that anchored at the Vanimo wharf were ordered by the court to pay PGK1,500 [US$556] in default six months in prison.

Morabang said the two men had paid their fines and had been sent back home on their boat last January 16.

In the recent incident, a taxi driver from Jayapura was apprehended by provincial police commander Sakawar Kasieng near a logging camp at Wutung village in Vanimo.

The court found that he had no valid visa to be in Papua New Guinea and ordered him to pay PGK1,000 in default two months in prison.

The man had paid his fine last week and was farewelled home by the Indonesian consulate at Batas.

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