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OC: Flaws in PNG passport case

The Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission has recommended that an investigation be conducted into the granting of PNG citizenship to Indonesian fugitive Djoko Tjandra six years ago.

In a report tabled in Parliament Tuesday, the commission recommended that former Foreign Affairs Minister Ano Pala and former Chief Immigration Officer Mataio Rabura (now deceased) be investigated for the granting of the citizenship to Tjandra in 2012. The report was presented to Speaker Job Pomat last week by acting Chief Ombudsman Michael Dick and Commissioner Richard Pagen.

It was tabled by acting Speaker Jeffery Komal.

Leader of Government Business James Marape requested that the report be debated at a later session.

Tjandra, before becoming a naturalised PNG citizen, was wanted by the Indonesian government for his alleged part in the collapse of a bank in Bali.

In the report, the Ombudsman Commission recommended that Pala be investigated for misconduct in office and Rabura for assisting in facilitating the issuing of a PNG passport to Tjandra under his new name of Joe Chan.

The report also implicated former acting Chief Migration Officer Joseph Nobetau and former immigration visa director Delilah So’osane for issuing Tjandra two Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation business travel cards in 2009.

The commission’s report found that laws and regulations guiding the issuing of entry permits including long-term (permanent residence) permit, granting of citizenship by naturalisation and issuing of PNG passports to Tjandra were not complied with.

It blamed the irregularities on the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority, the Citizenship Advisory Committee and Pala.

The Ombudsman’s report pointed out the:

*Issuing of two APEC business travel card permits to Tjandra in February and June 2009;
*improper and unlawful approval and issuing of a permanent resident permit to Tjandra;
*misapplication of power by Foreign Affairs Minister Ano Pala in exercising his discretionary powers under 

Section 20 of the Migration Act to exempt Tjandra from permanent residence requirements;

*improper and unlawful conduct by Pala in granting the citizenship to Tjandra;

*improper and unlawful issuing of PNG Passports No B328500 to Tjandra by Rabura and the Immigration officers; and,

*Improper and unlawful issuing of PNG passport No B330971 and PNG passport No C116701 to Joe Chan contrary to the Passports Act and Passports Regulations by Rabura and the Immigration officers.

The Ombudsman Commission said the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority had failed to live up to the obligations entrusted to it by the State. “It failed to ensure that the relevant laws including the Constitution, the Migrations Act and Migration Regulations, the Citizenship Act and Citizenship Regulations and the Passports Act, and Passports Regulations were strictly complied with when dealing with Tjandra’s applications for entry permits, citizenship and passports.”

Meanwhile, an Ombudsman Commission report has questioned why former Chief Justice and Attorney-General Ano Pala granted Djoko Tjandra citizenship against the advice of PNG authorities.

It said Tjandra had travelled to PNG on a chartered flight on June 9, 2009, two days before his conviction for swindling about K200 million (US$61.7 million) from a Bali bank.

The report said Pala approved Tjandra’s application and granted him citizenship by naturalisation knowing that Tjandra “did not meet constitutional requirements”.

“The Minister also disregarded the advice by the National Security Agencies, National Intelligence Organisation, PNG Police and Interpol that the applicant Mr Joko Tjandra had adverse records against his name,” the report said.

“(His) name was on the Interpol red notice alert and was wanted as a fugitive by his country Indonesia.”
Tjandra was convicted by the Indonesian Supreme Court on June 11, 2009, for corruption and sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The commission stated that Indonesia had requested PNG to extradite Tjandra to serve his two-year jail term imposed by the Indonesian Supreme Court, but the request was not entertained.

The report said Tjandra was issued a PNG passport on May 4, 2012 (Passport No B328500).

On May 7, 2012, he applied for another passport and was issued PNG passport No B330971 under the new name of Joe Chan.

Pala could be not be reached for a comment.

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