International Organization for Migration
Papua New Guinea - A high-level meeting held last week in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea saw the launch of an International Organization for Migration (IOM) programme of technical assistance to the Government's Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority for a review of the National Migration Act and Regulations.
PNG has seen 10 years of uninterrupted economic growth, supported by the mining industry, a major liquefied natural gas project and spin-off effects on the construction, wholesale and retail sectors. This growth represents new opportunities for the thousands of foreign workers and investors who are arriving in the country in increasing numbers.
This rapid economic growth also brings challenges which require the improvement and updating of migration laws. IOM will help legislators to review rules relating to existing visa categories, assessment criteria and flexible entry arrangements for skilled migrant workers and foreign investors.
It will also assess how PNG deals with abuses of the visa system to create a clearer and more comprehensive approach to the treatment of unauthorised non-citizens.
The current PNG Migration Act dates back to 1978. Since then, only a limited number of minor amendments have been introduced.
PNG Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato told the Port Moresby meeting that “Immigration laws are an important tool in achieving economic growth, especially through support for tourism and the facilitation of business and increased levels of inward investment. Just as importantly, immigration laws and procedures play a vital security role in ensuring well managed borders."
IOM Chief of Mission Giuseppe Crocetti noted “the urgent need for this major review to take place with a view to identifying options and making recommendations for responding effectively to the increasing volume and complexity of people movement across PNG’s borders.”
IOM’s technical assistance will also support options for incorporating PNG’s obligations under the Refugee Convention and its corresponding Protocol into national legislation. Faced with a current refugee population of about 9,000 West Papuans and a small component of non-Melanesian refugees, this issue is pressing, as current PNG legislation does not specify how a refugee status determination (RSD) system would work.
With funding from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), IOM will support the legislative review process over the next two years as a part of a broader on-going capacity building programme in PNG. Legislation and policy drafting assistance will follow the initial assessment and build on the recommendations from an initial review report.