Missionary’s deportation irks O’Neill


PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill is disappointed with the deportation of a Catholic lay worker on Monday and has instructed that he be issued a new visa to return to PNG.
He told The National he did not agree with the move by Foreign Affairs Rimbink Pato and acting Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha to deport New Zealander Douglas Tennent.
The lay missionary, who is the administrator of the Archdiocese of Rabaul, was alleged to have engaged in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain and breaching his work permit. O’Neill has instructed Kantha to issue new visas to people Pato wants deported.
They include Tennent, who has already left the country, and two Lutheran missionaries who are still in Enga but have been informed of their deportation.
“These deportations won’t happen. I have instructed Solomon Kantha to issue new visas to these people for them to reenter the country,” O’Neill said.
The Catholic Church claims that Pato and Kantha had abused their powers in denying Tennent his right to remain in the country while his appeal against his deportation under Section 6 (2) of the Migration Act was being heard by the Waigani National Court on Monday.
Following the hearing, the court issued orders staying the deportation order and barred any airline from taking Tennent out of the country.
The order was handed over to the airport immigration officer at Jackson International Airport before Tennent’s departure. But it was not acted upon.
Kantha had told The National on Tuesday that they were reviewing Tennent’s case.
He said the minister cancelled the visa because of a complaint by landowners regarding his involvement in sensitive landowner issues.
“This is a breach of the condition of his Special Exemption Religious Worker visa. Given that he has been compliant in departing, he is given the opportunity to lodge a new application for a visa whilst we make an administrative review on his case.”
The Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands general secretary Fr Victor Roche said they hoped Tennent would be allowed to return to PNG.

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