14 May 2003

International Jurists call for PNG action over stateless Papuans

5:45 pm on 14 May 2003

The International Commission of Jurists is calling on the Papua New Guinea government to review its immigration laws to deal with the large number of Papuan bordercrossers who are stateless.

The Australian branch of the ICJ says there are over 15-thousand Papuans who fled Indonesia in the 1980s living in a government camp in the Western Province without any citizenship.

ICJ member, Liz Biok says the Papuans have lost their Indonesian citizenship and have been unable to apply for permanent residency or citizenship in PNG.

Ms Biok, who specialises in refugee law, says basic human rights and access to public services is limited for the Papuans because of their statelessness.

"For the people in the East Awin camp, there is very little access to medical care and certainly to education. They are given quality access, but they are limited in terms of any tertiary education to movement. They are not entitled to move off to Port Moresby and try and get long term jobs.They are forced to live for two or three generations, with no legal status."

Liz Biok says an ICJ report on the Papuan bordercrossers in PNG will be given to the Somare-Marat government.

The report was written after a recent ICJ mission to PNG.