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PNG Minister intervenes in Pacific journalists passport saga

September 5, 2015 1:10 am

Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato has intervened in the passport saga involving Pacific Island journalists including two from Fiji who are in the country to cover the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit.

Islands Business reports Pato told the journalists that he will make sure their passports are returned.

Among the 30 or so journalists attending the workshop are the seven journalists from Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu whose passports were confiscated upon their arrival in PNG over the last 48 hours.

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The journalists were detained for 3 hours on arrival at Jackson International Airport on Wednesday and were denied access to a telephone or be allowed to buy meals or drinks.

Immigration authorities say the journalists should have applied for the journalist visa and pay 1000 Kina in fees before travelling to PNG.

Foreign affairs officials and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat were not aware of the special visa and fees until right on the eve of the visiting journalists’ arrival this week.

Asked by local journalists when he opened the Forum Secretariat and the PINA organised two-day workshop at the Gateway Hotel not far from Jackson Airport today, Minister Pato said he had just returned from an overseas trip and has not been briefed about the passport and visa incident.

Pacific leaders and their delegations have begun arriving in Port Moresby for the meeting.

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