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In a Civil Society Press Conference yesterday, Dominque Sengi, a member of the Catholic Professional Society and former Senior Foreign Affairs Officer for PNG, raised points cautioning the PNG Public and the government on the Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Currently a private consultant researcher, Sengi reminded that PNG has already signed US Article Agreement 505. An agreement to which he stated that PNG was drawn in to allow placement of US military assets, infrastructure including military transport, assets and munitions with a future possibility of Missile defenses and hypersonic nuclear power submarines in PNG jurisdiction.

He made mention another agreement as to which PNG has also signed, was the Ship Rider Agreement which allows US Coast Guard (US 2nd Navy) Cutters to access PNG Internal Seas.

This he said, violates domestic laws such as Local Seas Act and 12 Nautical Miles Maritime zones.

“The DCA becomes therefore an umbrella framework as the Government shy away after public critics from the nuances of Treaty,” he said. Reminding that the treaty making involves Section 117 of the Constitution, which means it requires Parliamentary sanction and scrutiny, of which he stated that AUKUS (Australia, UK and US) dare not attract at this peace time.  

“Sect 117 invocation would conflict and stymied US and AUKUS military/Defence interest in PNG especially,” he stressed.

He urged that there is a need for public scrutiny and Parliamentary sanction through the Belden Namah Chaired Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs in fulfillment of transparency, good and open governance and leadership accountability.

“Based on my sound working knowledge, PNG Foreign Affairs has no stand-alone act, the provision of which describes “corporation sole” powers entitling the Foreign Minister and or the Prime Minister to sign bilateral or multilateral Treaties alone and or in any subsidiary forms (DCA, SOFA, MoU, Agreements, Conventions) for and on behalf of the State as a personality under International law,” Sengi emphasized.  

“The PM and NEC Act does not have such provisions entitling Prime Minister to sign committing the State,” he added.

Meanwhile, PNG’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, Elias Wohengu in a recent comment to the Voice of America assured that the deal maintains the country’s sovereignty and is in line with PNG Laws.

“There’s no immunity for any foreign [military] personnel that would preside in Papua New Guinea. If a crime is committed, punishment would be carried out” Wohengu said.

He said this following rumors that the deal will undermine national security. will provide immunity, “there is no fact in this agreement that speaks truth to those lies,” Wohengu said.

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