50 unlawful non-citizens detained

The Bomana Immigration Centre outside Port Moresby is now open and the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) has detained fifty unlawful non-citizens at the facility.

Under the PNG Migration Act 1978, anyone in PNG without a valid visa is an unlawful non-citizen and is available for immigration detention and removal.

The newly-opened Bomana Immigration Centre is a valuable addition to the operational capability of ICA in its role of protecting PNG’s borders.

It currently has 50 unlawful citizens detained. These are people of no refugee status or valid visa to remain in the country.

Chief Migration Officer, Solomon Kantha, said these individuals have been aware for some time that they had no right to remain in PNG. Some have been in the country for some three years or more.

He said non-refugees are unlawful in the exact same way as someone who overstays their visa or an individual that crosses our borders illegally - they have no visa, no right to remain in our country and must depart to their home country.

Following the biggest immigration detention operation ever performed in Manus, the ICA has taken this action as a last resort.

Kantha said ICA’s decision to detain the unlawful non-citizens was taken only after all efforts to encourage voluntary departure had failed.

He said these persons have been provided ongoing support and access to services, well beyond what is afforded to everyday PNG citizens. More recently and despite their unlawful status, all have been accommodated in quality hotels here in Port Moresby – where they were not only free to go shopping and sightseeing, but were provided with all their meals and health care.

Despite ICA's best efforts to provide support to these individuals and encourage voluntary departure and generous financial assistance - over PGK70,000 for each person – they have chosen to remain in PNG unlawfully.

The Chief Migration officer said while people will be concerned for the welfare of these men, he assured support is being provided to the men, including financial assistance, to move on with their lives if they decide to depart PNG voluntarily.

(Bomana Immigration Centre filepic)

Sally Pokiton