NZ Missionary Deported From PNG For Advising Landowners On 'Sensitive Issues'

Defenders say Tennent was fighting for justice against international logging company

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 14, 2017) – A New Zealand lay missionary, who is the administrator of the Archdiocese of Rabaul, has been deported for engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province contrary to his work permit.

However, the Archbishop of Rabaul, Francesco Panfilo, has cried foul, saying this was an example of corruption of the highest order in Papua New Guinea to protect and safeguard some big companies and national leaders.

Archbishop Panfilo said in a statement that Douglas Tennent was a justice fighter, who was arrested in Rabaul, flown to Port Moresby, and deported to New Zealand on Monday.

He said he brought in Douglas Tennent, a former law lecturer at the University of PNG, after he was asked by the landowners at West Pomio to look into the issues surrounding their relationship with a logging giant.

“When I asked the people, ‘why are you asking me to do that,’ and they told me plainly, ‘we do not believe in our politicians, we believe that the church will help us,’” he said.

“So I got involved, and the more I got involved, I discovered the social issues involved, and the solution to this problem was by asking (the developer) to agree to have a new lease agreement.” Despite a National Court order staying the deportation, Mr Tennent was deported.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a statement yesterday that Mr Tennent was deported for fighting for justice for the voiceless in Papua New Guinea. Bishop Rohus Tatamai said the cancellation of his visa permit was a blantant abuse of the conditions of his visa as a religious worker, and that blatant abuse of power came from the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato, and Acting Chief Migrations Officer Solomon Kantha.

The church claims there was an abuse of power by the minister denying the right for Mr Tennent to be present, while his appeal under section 6 (2) of the migration act was being heard and processed at the Kokopo National Court on Monday. The same court on Monday issued orders staying the deportation order and prohibiting any airline to transport Mr Tennent.

The order was handed over to the airport immigrations office at Jackson International Airport before Mr Tennent’s departure.

“We don’t know what his crime is! We don’t know who lodged a complaint against him and what the accusations against him are. The only thing we know is what is written in the Notice of Cancellation of the Entry Permit, signed by the Acting Chief Migration Officer: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province,” Archbishop Panfilo said.

PNG Post-Courier
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