NCC Action Against Indian High Com

Pandemic Controller, David Manning has expressed disappointment at the way in which India’s High Commission in Port Moresby deliberately participated in the deception that resulted in unauthorized passengers arriving in the country.

The passengers included four infected with COVID-19, Controller Manning said the behaviour of those involved in the dishonest process compromises the safety and security of Papua New Guinea.

Controller Manning said: “I have requested Papua New Guinea’s Department of Foreign Affairs to deal with the Indian High Commission through appropriate diplomatic channels, while the charter company and the airline, and any middle-men will now face the consequences for their actions.

“The High Commission of India has achieved through this action is to undermine the trust of a friendly nation. India must respect Papua New Guinea as a sovereign nation, and not participate in actions involving unscrupulous people, to violate our laws and undermine public health and safety measures.

“As a consequence of this deliberate show of disrespect against the people and Government of PNG, there is now an indefinite ban on any further repatriation flights from India. Further, CapaJet and Garuda Indonesia are now prevented from entering Papua New Guinea airspace until further notice,” said Controller Manning.

He said strict safety measures for the repatriation flight was agreed upon in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Delta strain from India.

“Considering the devastating outbreak of the Delta strain in India which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, our Government had to be very strict with the Indian Government in order to keep Papua New Guineans safe.

“This is why the proposed repatriation flight from India had been rejected four times and was only approved after the set measures had been agreed with representatives of the Indian High Commission. This included a cap on the number of passengers that would arrive on the flight, and that all passengers would take a COVID-19 PCR test two days prior to the aircraft departing.”

First, the agreement on the number of approved passengers was broken when the Indian Government and flight operators allowed 81 passengers onto the aircraft intending to disembark in PNG. While some of these passengers were Papua New Guinean citizens and the remainder had valid visas.

Controller Manning said: The point is that the Indian Government broke our agreement by allowing so many to travel. It was only after the aircraft had stopped to refuel in Indonesia, and then departed for Port Moresby, that the truth was revealed.

“Consideration was given to returning the aircraft, but that would only have caused distress to PNG citizens on the flight and other legitimate travelers who were not part of the deception.”

Secondly, the Indian Government allowed some passengers to board the aircraft without undertaking a COVID-19 test and returning a negative result. This failure meant that the flight carried four individuals into PNG who are infected with COVID-19.

“We are very fortunate that each of these four people appeared to no longer be infectious, and all other passengers have been tested and returned negative results,” he added.

Controller Manning added that the Government of Indonesia would be receiving correspondence from the Department of Foreign Affairs calling on the Ambassador to explain his government’s involvement in the scandal.

He said these matters pertain to the boarding of Indonesian passengers onto the aircraft, and the actions of Garuda Indonesia as a State-owned airline.

Press Release