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Weapons, drugs, pornography easy to smuggle into PNG

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 8, 2009) – Passes issued to traditional border crossers between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia must be discontinued immediately, say police.

Police at the border of Indonesia and PNG yesterday said the passes issued under the Transitional Border Crossers policy should be replaced with a proper system and only people with valid passports allowed to move to and fro.

"We have to do that to cut down on abuse of the pass system and other serious crimes committed all along the border.

"The current system was abused, there is a lot of arms, drugs and pornographic material smuggling," provincial police chief Sakawar Kasieng said from Vanimo yesterday.

Chief Inspector Kasieng said the policy to issue permits or passes to travellers between the two countries must cease and all travellers be subjected to the same scrutiny as at all other international ports of entry.

He made this call after women near Wutung attempted to stage a protest march yesterday morning against the closure of Batas, a place where PNG border crossers go to do their shopping.

Mr. Kasieng said Batas was regarded as a haven for all illegal activities and it was a National Executive Council decision to close the place which came into effect in July last year.

He said people near Wutung, however, were defiant and resisted the Cabinet decision.

He appealed to Vanimo-Green MP and Forest Minister Belden Namah, Sandaun Governor Simon Solo and the Foreign Affairs Department to take immediate steps to forfeit all border crossers’ passes and instead allow travellers with valid passports.

He said the passes were mainly issued to the local people or traditional border crossers but they were abusing the privileges and causing troubles on both sides of the border.

He said problems such as smuggling of firearms, illegal drug trafficking and the circulation of pornographic materials were on the rife because people along the border were crossing at will and indulging in these illegal practices.

He said there was an increase in people transiting through from Telefomin, Tumolbil and Green River and who made their way back into the country along the Green River to Pagwi and Maprik and into Wewak town or the highlands provinces.

"We are only monitoring the border post at Wutung but in the bush where there are no patrol posts, people are very reckless and cross at will and engage in these illegal practices," Kasieng said.

He said rural stations near the border were doing illegal trading and there were no proper monitoring systems because the police and defence were ill equipped.

He said weapons smuggling was rife with more than 30 firearms confiscated by police at the PNG border since last year which came from Indonesia.

He said police were doing their job and had called on the defence post and the foreign affairs and customs to help them.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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