UN Denies PNG Refugee Requests for Resettlement; Nauru’s Influential Former President Dies; Two Plead Guilty to Human Trafficking in Mariana Islands

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — Despite requests for resettlement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has announced that there is no rush to remove the roughly 100 Papuan refugees currently squatting in Papua New Guinea’s capital.

The refugees have accused the UNHCR of neglecting the group’s needs. The UNHCR, meanwhile, has explained that Papua New Guinea has a plan for the refugees to remain in the country.

Within the last 9 months, the group has moved from different locations throughout Port Moresby. Currently the 100 are squatting in a Boroko public park. Richard Towle, a regional representative for UNHCR, explains that, similar to the 10,000 Papuan refugees currently residing in PNG, this relatively small group has little to complain about:

“But they have refugee status, they are safe. there’s absolutely no suggestion of forced return to Indonesia. We’re satisfied that the basic principles of international protection are being fully met here. Certainly there’s a sympathy that we have for a small group of people that can’t find a place to live. I think there are some solutions that need to be explored. We’re happy to work with government and with this group to try and find them in PNG.”

Meanwhile, local NGO activist,  Richard Brunton, has painted a different picture. According to Brunton, the elderly and children refugees are suffering the most due to poor living conditions among the camps:

“[F]or the past three or four days, real problems with sanitation and water. I’ve not seen one visit by UNHCR, Provincial Affairs, Foreign Affairs, even the Governor of the city, nobody’s been down here to check out their conditions or hear the concerns about their safety and not having a place to stay.”

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Papuan refugees in PNG don’t need resettlement, says UNHCR — 06 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Concern voiced for welfare of Papuan refugees in Port Moresby — 04 July 2008


YAREN, Nauru — Controversial former President of Nauru, Rene Harris, has passed away at the age of 61. A state funeral was held shortly after his death.

President Harris had been an influential member of Nauru’s Parliament, having served for 31 years. He had also served as president for a total of 4 years between 1999 and 2004.

In particular, Mr. Harris was known for supporting the controversial “Pacific Solution.” As part of this “solution,” the Australian government had introduced a detainment center which soon employed roughly ten per cent of Nauru’s population. The program was aimed at keeping asylum seekers off Australian turf by detaining 1,637 refugees on nearby Nauru and Manus islands. The policy garnered global attention in 2001 when Aghan refugees were offloaded on Nauru, and in 2004, when several detainees went on a hunger strike and sewed their mouths shut to protest their incarceration.

Despite the Pacific Solution’s widespread criticism, Foreign Minister and member of Mr. Harris’s opposing party, Kieren Keke, remembered the former President as an influential and tough politician.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Former President of Nauru Rene Harris dies — 06 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Nauru’s former President remembered as strong willed but amicable person — 07 July 2008

Sydney Morning Herald — Nauru ‘Pacific Solution’ president dead — 06 July 2008


SAIPAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands — A Guam man pled guilty to allegations that he was involved in the trafficking of women from Chuuk, Micronesia from April 2006 to January 14, 2008. The man is one of two men recently charged with criminal conspiracy related to human trafficking.

In total, nine women from Chuuk were brought to Guam to work at a place called the Blue House bar. In their pleas, Saknin Weira and Freuda Eseun admitted to recruiting, enticing, transporting, and getting women to perform sex acts for money, the Marianas Variety reported. In addition, the owner’s of Blue House bar, Song Ja Cha and Han Cha, will be charged with conspiracy, sex trafficking, coercion, and enticement to travel for the purpose of prostitution.

Weria and Eseun plead guilty to Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood, from a U.S. District Court of Guam. The Marianas Variety had reported that one of the men who pled guilty is mentally challenged.

For more information, please see:
Marianas Variety — Second Bar Worker Pleads Guilty In Human Trafficking Case — 07 July 2008

Author: Impunity Watch Archive