Ugandan teen asks to remain in country

A Uganda teenager, who entered the country using a fraudulent passport in February, has asked the court to allow him to remain in PNG.

The 19-year-old appeared at the Waigani District Court on Thursday, after he was arrested on arrival at the Jackson's International Airport on February 15.

Paul Muyanja has been kept in custody since his arrest at the Waigani Police station.

He was charged under section 16 (1)(a) of the Migration Act. A charge that has a penalty fine not exceeding K5000 or a custodial sentence of 6 months.

He told the court through his lawyer today that he comes from a war-torn area in Uganda and does not want to go back.

He pleaded guilty to illegally entering the country using a fake passport but asked the court to impose a penalty fee as his penalty sentence.

“I am very sorry. I want to pay K1000 and be allowed to stay in PNG. I have no way to go back to Uganda," he told the court.

"I sold land to come. I didn't see my parents. They died when I was very young."

He told the court he came to PNG in search of a better life.

He said he met a PNG man, known to the court only as Eddie on Facebook, who convinced him to come to PNG.

Muyanja said Eddie arranged his PNG passport and sent it to Uganda via DHL.

"I'm sorry; I don't want to go back. I want to stay with adopted father, Steven Libu, a policeman in PNG," he told Magistrate John Kaumi in court.

Between June 2016 and 9 February this year, he communicated with Eddie on Facebook who organised his PNG passport.

K2000 was sent to PNG and passport number e134540 was produced with his picture.

On 9 February, he departed Uganda for PNG. He travelled via Kenya and Singapore, where indiscrepencies regarding his passport were picked up.

PNG Immigration and Citizenship service was alerted and he was picked up on arrival in Port Moresby.

Police prosecution objected to his request to remain in the country, saying he is not a refugee and entered the country using a fake passport.

Magistrate Kaumi adjourned his case to next Thursday, where he will hand down the court's decision on his sentence.

Muyanja remains in police custody till then.

Sally Pokiton