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Group detained by Australia south of Daru Island

By Simon Eroro PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 3, 2010) – The group of Papuans who illegally crossed into Australia last month had to be arrested and charged because they broke customs and immigration laws, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Border Response Team has said.

Border security director for Southern Region Ben Sine said the group’s leader Jonathan Baure was arrested on Daru Island and was brought back to Port Moresby.

[PIR editor’s note: Daru Island is located in the Coral Sea between northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea.]

PNG Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa, while supporting Mr. Sine’s statement, said it was also a serious concern for Papua New Guinea and Australia as proper procedures and processes were not followed because Australia was a sovereign State.

Mr. Juffa said The National news-paper failed to confirm facts and in doing so, was promoting illegal boarder crossers.

He said on December 22, about 120 Papuans illegally crossed the PNG - Australian border from Daru Island in 12 dinghies, each carrying 10 people.

They made the trip from Daru Island through the border but were intercepted by the Australian Customs and Border Protection authorities near Warrior Reef in Australian waters.

"One made it as far as Horn Island before it was rounded up and sent back to the country. The Australian authorities had since December 25, 2010 started repatriating the group back to Daru for processing by PNG Customs and Immigration officials. The last group was brought back in December 26, 2010. The PNG Customs Service, PNG Immigration and Citizenship Services, police and PNG Defense Force have been monitoring the situation since information was first received on the situation on December 16, 2010," Mr. Juffa said.

He said Mr. Baure, the founder of the so-called "Papua Besena Movement" and the mastermind behind the attempted crossing, is alleged to have been soliciting money from Papuans born before Independence and mobilizing them to pursue Australian citizenship, which he claims was their birth-right.

Mr. Juffa said although his claims might seem genuine, non accountability of the monies collected has led law enforcement agencies to believe that this was an act of diversion to avoid being detected by the people as he had been soliciting money from the ignorant people.

"Efforts made to discourage people intending to travel to Australia illegally with Mr. Baure by Customs and police failed to deter the would be Australian citizens who illegally left," Mr. Juffa said.

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