PNG Minister Intervenes; Foreign Journalists Passports Returned

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Group was detained for short time upon arrival at airport

By Sikeli Qounadovu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 8, 2015) – A group of seven Pacific Islands journalists have had their passports returned in Papua New Guinea after intervention by the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato.

The seven were detained on arrival at Jackson International Airport after what is believed to be visa problems.

They were released after three hours in detention.

Responding to questions posed by The Fiji Times, Islands Business International Group Editor-in-Chief Samisoni Pareti confirmed they were detained for three hours at Jackson International Airport after disembarking from Air Niugini's Nadi to Port Moresby flight.

Among the 30 or so journalists attending the workshop are the seven journalists from Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu whose passports were confiscated upon their arrival in PNG.

Mr Pareti said Immigration authorities told them the journalists should have applied for the journalist visa and pay 1000 Kina ($FJD776) in fees before travelling to PNG.

There has been no confirmation on whether the journalists were asked to pay the 1000 Kina fee.

Mr Pareti said the fee was imposed on all journalists who were in PNG to cover the Pacific Islands Forum.

"The 1000 Kina fee for journalists visiting PNG does not apply to us because we are here under the Pacific Islands Forum arrangements," he said.

"No forum country imposes fees for coverage of Forum meetings. And all of us went through the formal Forum media accreditation process two months before travel, and nowhere in that process were we told of the journalist fee."

Mr Pareti confirmed that during their three hour detention they were neither mistreated nor abused.

"Only our requests to use their telephone or to be allowed to buy water or food were denied," he said.

Mr Pareti said Mr Pato intervened in the passport saga, resulting in their release and passports returned.

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