By Bridgette Komatep – EM TV, Port Moresby
Opposition strong–man and Vanimo – Green MP, Belden Namah, has called on the government to re-engage the Special Immigration Task Force that was initially set up in 2012.
The special force was headed by John Bria, and it was responsible for investigating illegal immigrants, illegal logging operations and contract breaches; with the aim to protect PNG’s sovereignty.
Since the special force was dissolved, there has been an influx of foreigners and illegal immigrants into the country. Within the span of three years, it’s believed illegal activities concerning foreigners, have increased.
Mr Namah has echoed the calls made by Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, and Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenouc, to reestablish the Special Immigration Task Force, and deal with illegal immigrants.
He stated that the issue of illegal immigrants and border incursions are issues close to his heart, as his electorate of Vanimo-Green borders with Indonesia.
The influx of foreigners and illegal immigrants has also questioned the capacity of Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs and Immigration Department, in enforcing national security.
In 2012, EMTV ran a series of stories on the work of the Immigration Task Force Unit. The team conducted raids, arrested and deported illegal immigrants back to their countries of origin. Most of the suspects operated trade stores without proper work permits.
EMTV’s Lae Bureau Chief, Scott Waide, was with the Task Force team when they arrested a Bangladeshi and some foreigners of Chinese origin, operating without proper work documents.
In the shops operated by the foreigners, of Chinese nationality, it was discovered that staff were being paid below the minimum wage, all the while working in harsh conditions.
The reestablishing of the Immigration Task Force team will depend on PNG’s Chief Migration Officer and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rimbink Pato, who have yet to present, to the government, the Force Operations Report.
Attempts by EMTV over the past three weeks to get comments from either one of them, have been unsuccessful.
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