NATION

PNG Minister Intervenes in Passport Saga for Fijian Journalists

Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato of Papua New Guinea has intervened in the passport saga involving Fijian journalists who are in the country to cover the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders
05 Sep 2015 13:27
PNG Minister Intervenes in Passport Saga for Fijian Journalists
Makereta Komai

Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato of Papua New Guinea has intervened in the passport saga involving Fijian journalists who are in the country to cover the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit.

“I will make sure those passports are returned,” Honourable Pato told journalists attending a media workshop in the capital Port Moresby yesterday.

Among the 30 or so journalists attending the workshop are the seven journalists from Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu whose passports were confiscated upon their arrival in PNG over the last 48 hours.

The group included the manager of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and a veteran of covering previous Pacific Island Forum meetings Makereta Komai and IB magazine’s editor in chief, Samisoni Pareti.

They were detained for three hours on arrival at Jackson International Airport on Wednesday and were denied access to a telephone or be allowed to buy meals or drinks.

Immigration authorities say the journalists should have applied for the journalist visa and pay 1000 Kina (US$356) in fees before travelling to PNG.

Foreign affairs officials and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat were not aware of the special visa and fees until right on the eve of the visiting journalists’ arrival this week.

Asked by local journalists when he opened the Forum Secretariat and the PINA organised two-day workshop at the Gateway Hotel not far from Jackson Airport, Minister Pato said he had just returned from an overseas trip and had not been briefed about the passport and visa incident.

“I have to take a briefing on that but as I understand the position of the past is that there has to be a special arrangement for all of our visitors visiting PNG in connection with the Pacific Islands Forum meeting and whatever needs to be done to remedy this matter,

“I will instruct the immigration division which is my responsibility to ensure those issues of concerns are addressed for the media because the media clearly has an important role to play and I have already emphasised the role of the media in my (opening) statement this morning.”

President of the PNG Media Council Alex Rini commended Minister Pato for his personal intervention in the matter. Mr Rini is also editor in chief of the Post Courier newspaper.

Pacific leaders and their delegations are to start arriving into Port Moresby from today in time for the Small Island States Summit on Monday next week, to be followed by members of the Pacific ACP group of countries meeting on Tuesday.

The main Forum plenary is scheduled on Wednesday to be followed by the Leaders’ traditional retreat on Thursday with the forum wrapping up with the Post Forum Dialogue with development partners on Friday next week.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 



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