27 Jan 2011

UN has assurance Papua border-crossers won't be returned to Indonesia

4:31 pm on 27 January 2011

The United Nations refugee agency in Papua New Guinea says it's received an official assurance that border-crossers from Papua arrested in a border security crackdown won't be returned to the Indonesian province.

PNG's acting deputy police commissioner says the 77 Papuans arrested are being assessed for links with the Papuan liberation movement, OPM.

Fred Yakasa says anyone found not be a citizen of PNG will be considered an OPM activist and sent to the refugee camp at East Arwin.

The UNHCR's Walpurga Englbrecht says its been assured that the detainees' human rights will be respected.

"We have been informed by the authorities about their intention of closing down some of these camps that are being used for training activities. We were informed that after carrying out checks of their identity, seeing whether they have been registered with the PNG authorities that none of these persons would be returned to West Papua."

However Walpurga Englebrecht says it's not possible to be classed as both an OPM activist and a refugee and the UN only has a mandate over refugees.