By GYNNIE KERO
THE Immigration Department is reviewing its decision to deport Catholic layman Douglas Tennent who has already left the country.
Acting Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha told The National yesterday that Tennent, who has returned to New Zealand, would be invited to lodge a fresh visa application.
Kantha said Tennent’s visa was cancelled by Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato. The decision was based on a complaint from landowners in East New Britain, where Tennent was serving as the administrator of the Archdiocese of Rabaul, regarding his alledged involvement on landowner issues.
“This is a breach of the condition of his Special Exemption Religious Worker visa,” Kantha said.
“Given that he had been compliant in departing, he is given the opportunity to lodge a new application for a visa while we make an administrative review on his case.”
Catholic Bishop Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands general secretary Father Victor Roche yesterday welcomed any decision by the Government to review Tennent’s case.
Roche said in a phone interview last evening: “We are very happy if the Government is reviewing the case. We want Tennent to return to the country.”
The church this week sought an explanation from the Government on the Tennent’s “sudden deportation”.
Bishop Rochus Tatamai said Tennent was told on Sunday to leave the country.
The church was not given any reason for the deportation.
He said the sudden deportation of a missionary who had committed his life to serving the underprivileged was discouraging.
“It is indeed a very sad moment for the church and the voiceless people,” he said.
Archbishop of Rabaul Francesco Panfilo said two officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Authority had arrived from Port Moresby to serve Tenneth the “Notice of cancellation of entry permit” and “Direction as to custody and removal order”.
They were signed by the minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
“He (Tennent) was picked up from Vunapope at around 10.45am on Sunday, June 11 and brought to Port Moresby. Until noon on Monday, we could not make contact with him,” he said.
“We finally were able to talk to him when he was already at the Jackson International Airport waiting to depart for New Zealand.”
By GYNNIE KERO