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Our Borders Secure: Karan

Fiji’s border security system is secure, assures Yogesh Karan. The Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister, Sugar Industry and Immigration was commenting in the wake of the
05 Feb 2017 11:00
Our Borders Secure: Karan
Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Yogesh Karan

Fiji’s border security system is secure, assures Yogesh Karan.

The Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister, Sugar Industry and Immigration was commenting in the wake of the deportation of Iranian Loghman Sawari to Papua New Guinea where he is a refugee.

“There is nothing wrong with our system,” Mr Karan said.

He said neither the Fijian Immigration system nor its policies were at fault.

He corrected some negative views about our immigration in the wake of Mr Sawari’s deportation.

He clarified that Mr Sawari arrived into the country the previous week with a genuine passport from PNG which was fraudulently obtained.

“In Mr Sawari’s case, the passport was not a fake passport because in our system we scanned it twice and it proved to be a genuine and original passport, but it was obtained through fraudulent means,” he said.

“This is what was confirmed to us through the Papua New Guinean authorities.

“I don’t know how Mr Sawari’s passport was issued by the PNG Immigration Department, but the passport was genuine.

“So when he comes to another country, unless it is reported or in the system that this passport is stolen then we will detect it. But if it was issued by the Immigration office of any country then it is very difficult to detect that because it is a genuine passport,” he said.

He said countries that issued passports should ensure that their system was secure.

Any information, under the immigration law, declared to the immigration officer was considered illegal and a crime if it was incorrect, Mr Karan said.

He added that immigration officers were trained to analyse any information provided in the passport and respond quickly.

“In this case (Mr Sawari), if the information on the arrival card and passport are all correct, then there is no issue with it, provided that the person is travelling with a genuine passport.

“If someone forges or gets a new birth certificate through fraudulent means, the person can obtain a passport through that birth certificate and we will not be able to detect it unless it is alerted through Interpol.”

Mr Karan said Fiji’s system was capable of detecting fake passports.

“We have caught many cases in the past. We have even picked fake passports, including Fijian passports. People made them from somewhere and made a duplicate copy, but we’ve caught them,” he said.

“This is an international problem where people will try to enter a country through fraudulent means, but this is a very stern warning to them: If anyone tries, we will catch you!”

The issue was also raised in the PNG parliament on Wednesday.

Oro Governor Gary Juffa during question time asked: “Prime Minister, are you aware that a 21-year-old, Iranian refugee made his way from Manus Asylum Centre to Fiji seeking asylum?

“What action is taken to conduct an investigation and highlight the security breaches in this instance, what type of passport he used? I was informed that it was a Papua New Guinean passport.

“How did he apply for that passport, and what is undertaken as an investigation to ensure that such things do not happen again, that our important security documents are not acquired and used by criminals?”

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill responded that the Foreign Affairs Ministry would investigate.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  monica.aguilar@fijisun.com.fj

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