Court: Facilitate Tennent’s entry in 14 days

The Kokopo National Court had ordered the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority to take all necessary steps to facilitate the entry and return of Douglas Grant Tennent.

The Church Administrator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul, was arrested by immigration officials on June 9 and was deported to New Zealand on June 12, after his alleged involvement with local landowners who were taking legal action against a giant logging company.   

The Kokopo National Court on Friday issued the orders to Acting Chief Migration Officer, Solomon Kantha, and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority to facilitate for Tennent’s return within 14 days, from July 7.

Justice Salatel Lenaia granted the orders on Friday after Tennent’s lawyer moved a motion in court last month.

This order was made pending a determination of the Committee of Review, pursuant to Section 6, subsections (2) to (7) of the Migration Act (Ch. 16) and pending the final hearing and determination of this case in court.

Justice Lenalia also stayed the notice of cancellation issued on June 1, by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, pending the determination of the committee of review.  

Tennent was served with an Executive Order from Minister Pato to be removed from PNG pursuant to s.13 of the Migration Act. That Executive Order was issued on June 1.

He came to Papua New Guinea in 1984 as a Church Social Worker.

He first worked with the Catholic Church in Mount Hagen Archdiocese. Then from 1997-2002, he worked with University of Papua New Guinea as a lecturer.

He had been working as the Church Administrator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul since June 2014. 

On June 12, Tennent’s lawyer went before the Kokopo National Court with an urgent application by way of Notice of Motion seeking orders to stay the deportation orders pending a determination by the Committee of Review if the Minister was minded to set up one in accordance with Section 6 (2) – (7) of the Migration Act.    

The court granted the orders sought, and stayed the deportation order on June 12. He was taken into custody on June 9.

The direction issued for his custody was also stayed pending the determination of the committee of review and final determination of this proceeding.

The Immigration division, their servants ad agents were restrained from carrying out the orders and to release him from their custody.

A restraint order was also issued against Air Niugini or other airlines from transporting Tennent out of the country.

The orders of the court from June 12 were served on Deputy Chief Migration officer Solomon Kantha however there was no compliance to the orders and Tennent was deported.  

On June 23, Tennent’s lawyer went back to court with a second Notice of Motion seeking to vary the terms of the orders given earlier.

Justice Lenalia granted the orders on Friday after he was of the view that the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority and other parties were willing to bring Tennent back to the country and whether he is issued with a new visa and work permit, or he goes through the process set by legislation in section 6 (1) – (8) of the Migration Act, will be something up to or for the parties to decide on.

The court was told on June 23 by Tennent’s lawyer that, the Orders by the Court issued on June 12, were breached because despite the fact that the orders were served on Kantha, Immigration officers deliberately refused to or failed to comply with the Court Orders.  

Lawyer representing the defendants, Kantha and Minister Pato, told the court that the Court Order were served on Deputy Chief Migration officer Solomon Kanta, but due to the fact that Tennent was already onboard the Qantas Flight, her clients could not do anything as Tennent’s name had been cleared and he was onboard the plane already under jurisdiction of the Airport Authorities.

Justice Lenalia on Friday said “Had Mr Kantha read the Court Orders properly, the orders covered Air Niugini or any other Airlines.”

Sally Pokiton