10 May 2006

Indonesia says latest Papuan boat people being deported to PNG

7:29 pm on 10 May 2006

The Indonesian news agency, Antara, reports that three Papuans taken into custody by Australian immigration officials in Torres Strait at the weekend are to be deported to Papua New Guinea.

But an official with Australia's Department of Immigration says a decision is yet to be made.

Australia's immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, had said earlier that as the Papuans had arrived from PNG, the possibility of returning them to that country needed to be explored first.

Antara quotes the Indonesian foreign minister, Hassan Wirayuda, says his government has been officially informed by Canberra that the three would be repatriated to PNG, and that that was the correct decision.

The men had sailed a traditional canoe across the Strait from PNG, landing at Boigu Island.

It is not known if they have applied for asylum, but Senator Vanstone says since Boigu is an excised place which allows Canberra to refuse any application for protection.

A Greens opposition Senator, Kerry Nettle, says if the three apply for asylum Australia is bound by international protocols to assess them in Australia.